Toward an explanation of the UFO abduction pehnomenon: Hypnotic elaboration, extraterrestrial sadomasochism, and spurious memories

Leonord S. Newman, Roy F. Baumeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autobiographical memories are often suspect. For example, a surprisingly large number of people report having been abducted by extraterrestrials. We offer a prototype of the abduction experience and an assessment of the frequency of such reports. These accounts are hard to dismiss on the basis of mendacity or insanity, but there are ample reasons to doubt their literal accuracy. We offer a cognitive-motivational explanation for how spurious memories of unidentified flying object (UFO) abductions can be created and maintained. The motivational roots lie in the desire to escape from ordinary self-awareness, and this explanation is supported by parallels between UFO abduction accounts and masochistic fantasies. The cognitive bases involve the integration and elaboration of hallucinations, general knowledge, and contextual cues into full-blown accounts, usually with the aid of hypnosis. Due to the pitfalls of hypnosis, people develop a high degree of confidence in the veridicality of spurious UFO abduction memories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-126
Number of pages28
JournalPsychological Inquiry
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Toward an explanation of the UFO abduction pehnomenon: Hypnotic elaboration, extraterrestrial sadomasochism, and spurious memories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this