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关于记忆,大多数人都误会了的四件事

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Human memory has been shown again and again to be far from perfect. We overlook big things, forget details, conflate events. One famous experiment even demonstrated that many people asked to watch a video of people playing basketball failed to notice a person wearing a gorilla suit walk right through the middle of the scene.

人类的记忆一次又一次地被证明远远不够完美。我们会忽略大的事情,忘记细节,也会将事情弄混。在一个著名的实验中,很多人被要求观看一个篮球赛视频,最后却证实到没人注意到一个装大猩猩的人从视野中穿过了。

So why does eyewitness testimony continue to hold water in courtrooms? A new nationwide survey of 1,500 U.S. adults shows that many people continue to have the wrong idea about how we remember—and what we forget.

那么为什么目击证人的证词在法庭上总是站得住脚的呢?一个基于全美1500名成人的新全国性调查指出,很多人对于我们是如何记忆,忘却事物仍抱有错误观点。

Here are four common incorrect assumptions about memory, held by some of the survey subjects, that experts say should be forgotten:

以下是一些调查中常常出现的四个关于记忆的错误看法,专家说它们理应被忘记:

1. Memory works like a video camera, recording the world around us onto a mental tape that we can later replay.

1 记忆的运作与摄像机一样,它可以将我们周边的世界摄入我们心灵的磁带,而且日后还能被回忆起来。

Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of those in the random telephone survey said that they agreed with this model of a passively recorded memory. This notion runs counter to research that has shown events to be recalled based on "goals and expectations," the researchers behind the survey wrote in a new paper, published online August 3 in PLoS ONE. It also "contradicts the well-established idea that memory retrieval is a constructive process," too, which can be shaped by assumptions and beliefs, noted Daniel Simons, of University of Illinois, and his co-author, Christopher Chabris, of Union College, both of whom are psychology professors.

在随机的电话调查中,将近三分之二(63%)的人都认同这种被动留下记忆的模式。这种观点与证实记忆是基于“目标和期望值”才被回忆起来的研究背道而驰。参与调查的专家们将结果记录,并于8月3日发表在PLoS ONE网上。它也“驳斥了记忆是一种建设的过程的想法”。依照这个说法,记忆就可以被假想和信仰塑造了。伊利诺斯大学的Daniel Simons和他来自联合大学的合著者Christopher Chabris共同强调道。他们都是心理学的教授。

2. An unexpected occurrence is likely to be noticed—even when people’s attention is elsewhere.

2 一个出人意料的事件会被注意到——甚至是当人们的注意力放在别处时。

More than three quarters (77.5 percent) of people thought that this would be the case. Clearly, they are unfamiliar with the gorilla suit study. That work and other research have shown that unexpected—and even preposterous—details frequently go unnoticed, and thus do not make it into memory. Aside from a false certainty that one would notice more people wearing oversized primate costumes, this presumption could have some serious implications for the legal system and eyewitness testimony. "If juries and lawyers believe that a suspect ‘should have’ noticed some event, they will tend to see claims of ignorance as deliberate attempts to deceive," Simons and Chabris wrote.

大于百分之七十五(77.5%)的人是这样认为的。显而易见地,他们对那个人扮猩猩的实验并不熟悉。那个实验和其他研究显示出的是——出人意料的,甚至是不合理的——细节常常被忽略,那些东西并不会进到记忆中。除了某人可能会看到更多穿了很大的灵长类动物的衣服的人,这种虚假的确定性以外,这样的假设还可能会对法律系统和目击者证言造成严重影响。“如果陪审团和律师相信嫌疑犯‘本该’注意到一些事情,而他却没注意到,那么在嫌疑犯试图故意欺诈时,他们将倾向于无视那些诉求。”Simons和 Chabris写道。

3. Hypnosis can improve memory—especially when assisting a witness in recalling details associated with a crime.

3 催眠术可以改善记忆——特别是在帮助目击者回忆起与犯罪有关的细节的时候。

Most memory experts disagree with this statement, but more than half (55.4 percent) of the surveyed public thought that it was accurate. Courts have already steered away from accepting testimony that was gathered through hypnosis. And many studies have demonstrated that people under hypnosis—and even those who are not—can often be led by questioners to "recall" things that never occurred.

大多数记忆专家不相信这种说法,但是多于半数的公众受访者(55.4%)认为这是对的。法院已经不再接收通过催眠收集到的证据了。很多研究表明人们在催眠状态下——甚至不在催眠状态下——都可以在提问者的引导下“回忆”起那些压根就没发生的事。

4. Amnesia sufferers usually cannot remember their identity or name.

4 失忆症患者常常记不住他们的身份或名字。

Although soap operas might lead you to conclude otherwise, most common forms of amnesia interfere with the formation of new long-term memories—usually as a result of a major brain injury. The researchers cite the movie Memento as a reasonably accurate portrayal of the condition, but most popular portraits "depict amnesia as something more like a much rarer fugue state in which someone cannot remember who they are and suddenly take leave of their home and work," they noted. Perhaps because of the prevalence of this blank-stare amnesia in television and movies, a whopping 82.7 percent of those surveyed shared this (incorrect) view of the condition.

 

The survey also found that nearly half (47.6 percent) of respondents said that once a memory is formed, it is set in stone. This is also not true, say the researchers: "Our memories can change even if we don’t realize they have changed," Simons said.

尽管肥皂剧会让你总结道:那些受新的长期记忆中的信息干扰的普通失忆症,常常是大脑主要部分受损的结果。研究者们引用电影《记忆碎片》作为对这种情形的合理精确的写照。但是在最通俗的描述中“失忆症被刻画成了一种更像少见的神游状态的东西。在这种状态下,人们不记得自己是谁,并会离开自己的家人和工作”研究者们特别提到。也许正是因为这种迷茫的失忆症在影视中的泛滥,才导致了82.7%的受访者都对这种错误观点坚信不疑。

研究表明,将近一半(47.6%)的受访者说到:一旦记忆形成,它就会被存在脑子里。研究人员告诉我们,这也不是真的:“我们的记忆会变的,甚至我们自己都意识不到它变了”Simons说道。

Along these lines, more than a third (37.1 percent) of people thought that "confident" testimony from a witness should be adequate for a criminal conviction. However, many defendants who were later shown to be innocent via DNA testing had originally been convicted based on a faulty ID by an eyewitness. And as the researchers pointed out in their paper, being confident about your memory of an event is a good predictor of its actual accuracy, but "the link between confidence and accuracy across individuals is more tenuous, in part because people differ in their baseline levels of expressed confidence."

在这个问题上,不止三分之一(37.1%)的人认为来自目击证人的“自信的"证言足够定罪了。但是,很多被目击者提供的错误ID而定罪的被告人,在接受DNA测试后被证明是清白的。正像是研究者们在报告中指出的一样,你对于某一件事的记忆有信心,那你就是对它的实际精度的预言者,但是“从个体而言,信心与准确度之间关联甚少,在某种程度上是因为人们表达自信的基线不同。

A lesson to be gleaned from all of this might exonerate a group that might need all of the credibility it can get these days: politicians. "The extent of these misbeliefs helps explain why so many people assume that politicians who may simply be remembering things wrong must be deliberately lying," Chabris said. But imperfect memories alone, of course, do not guarantee anyone is always striving to be deception-free.

来自这些想法的一个结论也许会为那些竭尽所能获得信誉的政客们开脱。“这些谬见的范围之广也帮助解释了为什么那么多人会在政客们记错事时怀疑他们是在蓄意撒谎。”Chabris说道。这仅仅是因为记忆不完整而已,当然,这也不能保证每个人都是时刻努力守信的。

But if there’s one thing to remember about the findings, it’s that "people tend to place greater faith in the accuracy, completeness and vividness of their memories than they probably should," Simons said.

但关于研究结果的一事仍令人记忆犹新:那就是“人们倾向于坚信自己的记忆比看上去更精确,完整,生动。”Simons说道。

To see how you and other readers measure up to the experts, the authors of the study (who also wrote the book The Invisible Gorilla) have created an online quiz that also shows the rates of correct—and incorrect—responses to the survey questions.

来看看你和其他读者是否符合专家、发起研究的人们(也指写《隐形的大猩猩》的作者)共同设计的在线测试吧。测试会根据你对调查问题的回答显示正确率及错误率。

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