Latent variables underlying the memory beliefs of Chartered Clinical Psychologists, Hypnotherapists and undergraduate students

Ost, James; Easton, Simon; Hope, Lorraine; French, Christopher C. and Wright, Daniel B.. 2017. Latent variables underlying the memory beliefs of Chartered Clinical Psychologists, Hypnotherapists and undergraduate students. Memory, 25(1), pp. 57-68. ISSN 0965-8211 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In courts in the United Kingdom understanding of memory phenomena is often assumed to be within the ‘common knowledge’ of the average juror. Many studies suggest that this is not a safe assumption, demonstrating that even professional groups sometimes express beliefs that are not in accordance with the scientific consensus. To test this assumption three hundred and thirty seven UK respondents, consisting of 125 Chartered Clinical Psychologists, 88 individuals who advertised their services as Hypnotherapists in a classified directory, the Yellow PagesTM, and 124 first year undergraduate psychology students, completed a questionnaire that assessed their knowledge of ten memory phenomena about which there is a broad scientific consensus. Hypnotherapists’ responses were the most inconsistent with the scientific consensus, scoring lowest on six of these ten items. Principal Components Analysis indicated two latent variables – reflecting beliefs about memory quality and malleability – underlying respondents’ responses. In addition, respondents were asked to rate their own knowledge of the academic memory literature in general. There was no significant relationship between participants’ self reported knowledge and their actual knowledge (as measured by their responses to the ten-item questionnaire). There was evidence of beliefs among the Hypnotherapists that could give rise to some concern (e.g., that early memories from the first year of life are accurately stored and are retrievable).

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Additional Information:

This project was funded by a grant from the Odin Trust.


Memory beliefs, hypnotherapists, expert witness, repression.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit (APRU)


1 January 2017Published
5 January 2016Published Online
23 November 2015Accepted

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Date Deposited:

29 Nov 2015 21:03

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:12

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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