Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine
Psychologist; Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Psychological Sciences

Dr. Elizabeth F. Loftus, a professor of psychology and expert researcher on the malleability and reliability of repressed memories, is an instrumental figure in cognitive psychology. Loftus' work has made a huge contribution to psychology and opened a unique and controversial aspect of psychology and memory.

Loftus was born in Los Angeles, California on October 16, 1944, to Sidney and Rebecca Fishman. Though planning to become a math teacher, she discovered psychology at UCLA where she received her BA in 1966 in math and psychology. In 1968, she married Geoffrey Loftus and applied to graduate school at Stanford. While at Stanford, she became interested in long term memory. Loftus went on to receive her M.A. in 1967 and her Ph.D in 1970, from Stanford. In 1973, Loftus was offered a position as assistant professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, where her husband was currently employed. She is still presently a psychology professor at the University of Washington. She began her research with investigations of how the mind classifies and remembers information. In the 1970's, she began to reevaluate the direction of her research. In "Diva of Disclosure" published in Psychology Today, she stated "I wanted my work to make a difference in people's lives." Thus, she began her research on traumatically repressed memories and eyewitness accounts. Loftus suddenly found herself in the midst of sexual abuse stories and defending accused offenders. In 1974, her research thrust her into the courtroom to testify in over 200 trials as an expert witness on the unreliability of eyewitness testimonies based on false memories, which she believed to be triggered, suggested, implanted, or created in the mind. Her trials have included those of mass murderer Ted Bundy and George Franklin. She testifies with the hope of preventing an innocent victim from going to prison and protecting a family's unity.

Elizabeth Loftus has appeared on countless talk shows including the Oprah Whinfrey Show. She has published 19 books and nearly 200 articles. She remains one of the most sought after psychology speakers and is an important spokesperson for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF). Loftus' most recent book, "The Myth of Repressed Memory" written with her colleague Katherine Ketcham, was published in 1994 by St. Martin's Press. It contains three detailed histories of individuals falsely accused of sexual molestation. It is an attempt to justify innocent people from being prosecuted and families being torn apart based on her explanation of the "false memory phenomenon." 

Loftus is an avid member of several psychological associations and has received numerous grants, fellowships, and awards. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, Western Psychological Association, and the Psychonomic Society. Her most recent award was in 1995 when she received the Distinguished Contribution Award from the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. She attains the highest respect from her colleagues and remains an important figure in this unfolding drama of memories and crime.


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