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Elizabeth Loftus

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Elizabeth Loftus is one of those eminent psychologists famous for her ground breaking works and contributions in fields of cognitive psychology and human memory. Born in Los Angeles on October 16th, 1944 she completed BA in Psychology and Mathematics from University of California, Los Angeles. After that she did her MA and PhD in 1970 from Stanford University. She started off her career by becoming a researcher at New School for social research in 1970. Misinformation effect and eye-witness testimony are her major ground breaking works in the fields of psychology.

Her theories also laid solid foundations for solving legal issues. She discovered that memory is amazingly delicate and imaginative which led to her works on malleability of the brains. Her researched on Semantic Information in Long Term Memory during first phase of her career in academics at New School For Social Research in New York City but she realized soon that she needs to work on subjects more relevant and important to social sciences. She became an assistant professor at University of Washington and started a brand new research on the functioning of memory in the real world which formed the basis for empirical studies in eyewitness testimony. Her research work entitled as “Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction” suggested through real life observations that the words of the questions asked changes the memories of the subjects. Then, she further investigated that if questions were asked ahead or if the information provided to the subjects is misguiding then does it affect profoundly on human memory? In order to investigate this research question she designed and developed misinformation effect paradigm which showed that human memory is highly malleable and highly receptive and open to the suggestions presented by the outside world and sources. The incorrect information presented to the subjects will lead them to identifying and revealing the correct information and facts. The misinformation effect gained fame and became one of the most well-known effects in the field of psychology that had a great influence on the later psychological developments in the field of Cognitive Psychology representing the intricacies of human memory. Her work on this theory also generated many follow-up studies that became the examining factors for studying the changing conditions of memory. The eye-witness memory is also one of her highly effective theory that has made her solve numerous legal issues in the courts. She published an article in 1974 discussing the relationship between observations and findings from the analysis of psychological sciences as well as the witness testimony in a trial of a murder case observed by her in the court. She also conducted profound studies and investigations on false memories.

Though some of her research work and experimental techniques has received criticisms but still she has done very remarkable researches concerning human memory and cognitive psychology. She has earned numerous honors and awards including the well known Grawemeyer award in 2005 and National Academy of Arts to name a few. She has also earned fellowship at the Royal society of Edinburgh through her remarkable works. In 2012 she received the William T Rossiter Award from the Forensic Mental Health Association of California.

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