Elizabeth F. Loftus (born Elizabeth Fishman, in 1944)is an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the malleability of human memory. Loftus is best known for her ground-breaking work on the misinformation effect and eyewitness memory, and the creation and nature of false memories, including recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.
As well as her prolific work inside the laboratory, Loftus has been heavily involved in applying her research to legal settings; she has consulted or provided expert witness testimony for hundreds of cases. Loftus has been recognized throughout the world for her work, receiving numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 2002, Loftus was ranked 58th in the Review of General Psychology’s list of the 100 most influential psychological researchers of the 20th century, and was the highest ranked woman on the list
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Elizabeth Loftus altered the course of legal history by revealing that memory is not only unreliable, but also mutable. Since the 1970s, Loftus has created an impressive body of scholarly work and has appeared as an expert witness in hundreds of courtrooms, bolstering the cases of defendants facing criminal charges based on eyewitness testimony, and debunking “recovered memory” theories popular at the time, as in her book The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse (with Katherine Ketcham).
Since then, Loftus has dedicated herself to discovering how false memories can affect our daily lives, leading her to surprising therapeutic applications for memory modification — including controlling obesity by implanting patients with preferences for healthy foods.