Are the "memory wars" over? A scientist-practitioner gap in beliefs about repressed memory

Lawrence Patihis*, Lavina Y. Ho, Ian W. Tingen, Scott O. Lilienfeld, Elizabeth F. Loftus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The "memory wars" of the 1990s refers to the controversy between some clinicians and memory scientists about the reliability of repressed memories. To investigate whether such disagreement persists, we compared various groups' beliefs about memory and compared their current beliefs with beliefs expressed in past studies. In Study 1, we found high rates of belief in repressed memory among undergraduates. We also found that greater critical-thinking ability was associated with more skepticism about repressed memories. In Study 2, we found less belief in repressed memory among mainstream clinicians today compared with the 1990s. Groups that contained research-oriented psychologists and memory experts expressed more skepticism about the validity of repressed memories relative to other groups. Thus, a substantial gap between the memory beliefs of clinical-psychology researchers and those of practitioners persists today. These results hold implications for the potential resolution of the science-practice gap and for the dissemination of memory research in the training of mental-health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-530
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number2
Early online date13 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • clinical psychology
  • hypnosis
  • individual differences
  • memory beliefs
  • repressed memory


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