Julia Shaw (psychologist)

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Julia Shaw (2017)

Julia Shaw (born 1987) is a German-Canadian psychologist and popular science writer who specialises in false memories.

Education and academic career[edit]

Shaw was born in Cologne, Germany and grew up in Canada. In 2004 she started a BSc in psychology at the Simon Fraser University.[1] She went on to complete a Masters in Psychology and Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.[2] In 2009, she returned to Canada and was awarded a PhD at the University of British Columbia entitled "Constructing Rich False Memories of Committing Crime".[3] Shaw remained in Canada, a lecturer at the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia.[4] In 2013 she became Lecturer in forensic psychology at University of Bedfordshire.[5] She joined London South Bank University as a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in 2015, before becoming a honorary[6] Research Associate at University College London in 2017.[7][8]

Shaw's expertise is in false memories and how law enforcement can use "tactics [that] may lead people to recall crimes that never occurred".[3] In one of her studies, she succeeded to get 70% of the participants to create false memories or beliefs of events from their childhood that never took place, and this study was covered extensively in mainstream media.[9][10][11] The validity of this 70% finding has, however, been criticised by colleagues.[12] Shaw addressed the criticism in a 2018 article in Psychological Science.[13].

Public engagement[edit]

Shaw is a contributor to Scientific American.[14] She gives public lectures on psychology and memory.[15][16][17] In 2016 she created a NOVA PBC documentary, "Memory Hackers".[18] She contributes to podcasts and radio, and her work has been featured on the Discovery Channel and BBC, as well as appearing in Der Spiegel, Russia Today and The Times.[19][20][21][22][23][24] In 2016, Random House published her first book "The Memory Illusion", which has since been translated to 14 different languages.[25][26] In 2017 she gave a TEDx talk "How False Memories Corrupt Our Identities, Politics and Justice System" at TEDxBergen and "Is Your Memory Just an Illusion?" at TEDxPorto.[27][28]


  • The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory. Random House, 2016


  1. ^ Bryce, Emma. "False memories and false confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes". Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Julia Shaw Speaker, Speeches, Booking Agent | MFL Global". MFL Global. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  3. ^ a b Julia Shaw; Stephen Porter (2015-03-01). "Constructing Rich False Memories of Committing Crime". Psychological Science. 26 (3): 291–301. doi:10.1177/0956797614562862. ISSN 0956-7976. 
  4. ^ Shaw, Julia. "LinkedIn - Dr Julia Shaw". Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  5. ^ Siegel, Nathan. "Give This Woman 3 Hours and She'll Have You Confessing to a Crime You Didn't Commit". OZY. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  6. ^ http://search2.ucl.ac.uk/s/search.html?query=j.shaw%40ucl.ac.uk&collection=website-meta&profile=_directory&tab=directory&sumbit=Go&start_rank=1
  7. ^ profile at LinkedIn (retrieved 2016-09-26)
  8. ^ "Dr Julia Shaw Senior Lecturer - Criminology". London South Bank University. Archived from the original on 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2016-09-27. 
  9. ^ Douglas Starr: Remembering A Crime That You Didn’t Commit. The New Yorker, 2015-03-05
  10. ^ "Most of us can be tricked into believing we have committed a crime". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  11. ^ Bryce, Emma. "False memories and false confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes". Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  12. ^ Wade, K. A.; Garry, M.; Pezdek, K. (2017). "De-constructing rich false memories of crime: Commentary on Shaw and Porter (2015)". Psychological Science. 
  13. ^ Shaw, Julia (2017). "How Can Researchers Tell Whether Someone Has a False Memory? Coding Strategies in Autobiographical False-Memory Research: A Reply to Wade, Garry, and Pezdek (2018)". Psychological Science. 
  14. ^ "Stories by Julia Shaw". Scientific American. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  15. ^ YourLPI (2016-12-15), Dr Julia Shaw - False memory in the workplace, retrieved 2018-01-02 
  16. ^ LearningTechnologies (2017-02-28), Julia Shaw - Memory hacking: The science of learning in the 21st Century - LT17 conference, retrieved 2018-01-02 
  17. ^ Julia Shaw (2016-06-04), The Memory Illusion by Dr Julia Shaw, retrieved 2018-01-02 
  18. ^ Julia Shaw (2016-02-17), Julia Shaw on "Memory Hackers" Nova, retrieved 2018-01-02 
  19. ^ "What an expert on false memories can tell you about the EU debate". The Independent. 2016-06-20. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  20. ^ "Ep 7: Dr Julia Shaw & Dr Brenna Hassett – Ada Lovelace Day". findingada.com. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  21. ^ Editor, Tom Whipple, Science (2016-06-24). "False memory of sex abuse can be inspired by police". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  22. ^ "Trügerische Erinnerungen: Der vermeintliche Verbrecher". Spiegel Online. 2016-08-16. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  23. ^ "Dr. Julia Shaw: "Your imagination can be easily confused with your memory", Fearne Cotton and Professor Julia Shaw, Steve Wright in the Afternoon - BBC Radio 2". BBC. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  24. ^ French, Christopher. "Explainer: what are false memories?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  25. ^ "The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory eBook: Julia Shaw: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store". www.amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  26. ^ Shaw, Julia. "The Memory Illusion". Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  27. ^ TEDx Talks (2017-11-09), How False Memories Corrupt Our Identities, Politics, and Justice System | Julia Shaw | TEDxBergen, retrieved 2018-01-02 
  28. ^ TEDx Talks (2017-10-30), Is Your Memory Just an Illusion? | A Tua Memória é Apenas Uma Ilusão? | Julia Shaw | TEDxPorto, retrieved 2018-01-02 

External links[edit]