False Memory

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False Memory and Your Imagination
Diana Bunch
PSY 511

False Memory and Your Imagination
The power of suggestion or through a vivid imagination are just a couple ways that psychological research has shown ways in which false memories are created. A false memory is an untrue or distorted reminiscence of an event that did not actually happen. In reality, memory is very susceptible to error. People can feel completely assured that their memory is accurate, but this assurance is no guarantee that a specific memory is correct. Existing knowledge and other memories can affect the creation of a new memory, causing the memory of an event to be mistaken or entirely false. Memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus (1997) has demonstrated through her research that it is possible to induce false memories through suggestion. She has also shown that these memories can become stronger and more vivid as time goes on. Over time, memories become distorted and begin to change. In some case, the original memory may be changed in order to incorporate new information or experiences.

Brainerd, Forrest, Karibian, and Reyna (2006) concluded that the developmental course of a false memory illusion involves a level of qualitative change. They conducted an experiment studying six such effects along with an alternative method of measuring developmental increases in the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) illusion comparing learning-disabled children versus nonlearning-disabled children. They hypothesized that learning-disabled children ought to display even less vulnerability to the illusion than nondisabled children of similar age. The six effects included list strength, recall inflation, delayed inflation, delayed stability, thematic intrusion, and true-false dissociation. The study consisted of two different experiments, the first involving comparing 60 kindergarten and first graders to 60 fifth and sixth graders using all six effects to study developmental interactions. The qualitative change hypothesis was highly favorable in this experiment. The second experiment used forty children from second grade compared to 40 children from sixth grade where the aim of this experiment was to determine whether the developmental trend in DRM false memory is the same for comparisons of children with different learning abilities as it is for comparisons of children of different chronological age. A third experiment was also implemented only for the reasons of control. The overall conclusion was that younger children apparently do not respond to some key experimental manipulations that produce characteristic changes in adults’ DRM performance.

The DRM paradigm has proved to bring much insight into research of false memory. Many researchers rely on this method of measuring to accurately determine the effects of this illusion. Dewhurst, Barry, Swannell, Holmes, and Bathurst (2007) investigated the effects of divided attention on false memory using the DRM paradigm through three experiments. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants studied six DRM lists with full attention and six with divided attention using two different conditions. Experiment 1 was given tests of recall after each list whereas participants in Experiment 2 were given a test of recognition 10 minutes after the final list. In Experiment 3 the participants studied six lists while performing random number generation (RNG), six performing digit-monitoring task and six with full attention then tested either by free recall or recognition. Participants from Experiment 1 included 48 students from Lancaster University. Results found both divided-attention conditions increased false recall of related words. Subjects of Experiment 2 were a new group of 48 students from the same university consistent with the same method. Results from this experiment showed a reduction in false recognition. Experiment 3 used a new group of students from the same university; 27 taking part in a recall study and 24 in a recognition...
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