Remember a past life? Maybe you just have poor memory





Do you sometimes have memories of a mysterious past life? Recall odd experiences such as being abducted by aliens? Wonder where these memories come from and if, in fact, you were really once whisked off in a flying saucer by ETs?

Seems the answer may be simpler than you think—or remember. A new study shows that people with memories of past lives are more likely than others to misremember the source of any given piece of information.

Study author Maarten Peters of Maastricht University in the Netherlands tested patients of "reincarnation therapists," who use hypnosis to help their patients remember "past lives," which the clients believe are at the root of their current problems.

Subjects were given a memory test known as the false fame paradigm, in which they were asked to recite a list of unfamiliar names. The next day, they were shown a list that included those names, new names, and the names of famous people. The results: subjects who claimed to have memories of previous lives were more likely than those without such recollections to misidentify more of the previously recited names as belonging to famous people.

In other words, people who believe they had previous lives are committing a source-monitoring error, or an error in judgment about the original source of a memory. (In this case, they are misremembering the source—themselves—of nonfamous names.) This is important because source-monitoring mistakes are the first in a sequence of events that psychologists believe lead to false memories.



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