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The Power of Suggestion *

Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Can an authority figure make someone question their own memory? How reliable is eyewitness information? This project looks into these questions. You'll need a poster-sized image that includes many faces, and a volunteers to act as "eyewitnesses." The volunteers are tested individually. The instructions are that they have one minute to examine the poster, and then a fixed amount of time (e.g., 5 minutes) to write down brief, accurate descriptions of all the faces they can remember. They'll get points for each correct description. They will also be tested one day later, without seeing the poster again, to see how well they can retain the information after a time lapse. At the end of the first test session, the tester runs down their list, checking off correct descriptions, with the volunteer present. At some point during this process, the tester remarks, "Oh, you missed the . . ." and describes a face not in the poster. How many of the volunteers will include the non-existent face when they write their descriptions on the second day? (Gale, 2002)

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Science Buddies Staff. "The Power of Suggestion" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Soc_p026.shtml>

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Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). The Power of Suggestion. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Soc_p026.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


Gale, S., 2002. "The Power of Suggestion," California State Science Fair Project Abstract [accessed February 1, 2006] http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2002/Projects/J1706.pdf.

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