The Power of Suggestion: Memory Manipulation

Friday, 13 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Caitlyn A. Miller, Columbia Station, OH
The hypothesis was, If the power of suggestion is used in an experiment, then participants' responses can be altered by the person conducting the study. The hypothesis was supported by the data. Background research indicates the power of suggestion can be influential to people and therefore is used in many aspects of daily life. It can be seen in slogans and commercials to influence buying decisions. Suggestion is used to give directions to the sub-conscious mind. In this experiment, test subjects were shown a poster with twelve images for thirty seconds and asked to remember as much as possible. After the time was up, participants were given twenty-five seconds to make a list of all of the images that they could remember. Once this was completed, test subjects were asked fifteen questions. On three of these questions, participants were asked “Are you sure?” as a suggestion to change their answers. 12.5% of the participants changed their answers all three times when prompted. The remaining participants changed their answers 29% of the time in each of the other categories; zero, one or two times. The participants were also asked a question about a non-existent image and its location. The results showed that 54% of participants stated that there was really nothing underneath the image, which is correct. However, 46% of the participants actually offered an answer regarding an image that was not there. Whenever a researcher influences the test subjects and data, the study is negatively impacted and overall results are rendered invalid.