Evaluating characteristics of false memories

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Subjects hearing a list of associates to a nonpresented lure word later often claim to have heard the lure (Deese, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995). To examine the characteristics of such false memories, subjects completed a memory characteristics questionnaire (MCQ; Johnson, Foley, Suengas, & Raye, 1988) or made remember/know (RK; Gardiner & Java, 1993) judgments for previously heard theme associates and nonpresented lures. MCQ ratings indicated that false memories for lures had less auditory detail and less remembered feelings and reactions than memories for presented words. In addition, rates of false recognition for lures were significantly lower than rates of correct recognition when items from various themes were intermixed instead of blocked at acquisition and subjects made MCQ ratings instead of RK judgments. This demonstrates that false memories can be affected both by how they are acquired and by how extensively they are examined at retrieval.


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Publication Title

Memory and Cognition

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Mather, M., Henkel, L. A., & Johnson, M. K. (1997). Evaluating characteristics of false memories. Memory and Cognition, 25.6, 826-837.



Peer Reviewed