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Choice Blindness as Misinformation: Memory Distortion in an Eyewitness Identification Task


Despite lay intuition, research has shown people often do not notice when an outcome they are presented with differs from a choice they made. The novel choice blindness paradigm investigates the extent to which this occurs and how it effects later decisions. Theoretically and methodologically choice blindness parallels studies on the misinformation effect. In both paradigms, participants view an event (or make a decision), receive inaccurate post-event feedback, and complete a memory test. Results from misinformation studies focus on whether people recall the misinformation or the actual details of the event while the choice blindness paradigm focuses on whether people detect the misinformation. The current study uses findings from the misinformation literature and applies them to a choice blindness paradigm for an eyewitness identification decision. Participants witnessed an event and made a lineup identification. Later, they were given accurate, inaccurate, or no feedback about their identification. Inaccurate feedback came in the form of a manipulated version of the participants’ own report. Finally, participants again viewed the initial lineup. Results indicated that a substantial proportion of participants failed to notice the misinformation, and that these participants were most likely to select a different lineup member in lineup 2 than they did in lineup 1. No behavioral or personality factors were found to distinguish between those who did and did not notice the misinformation. This study provides a link between the misinformation and choice blindness literatures and extends the research on the effect of the choice blindness manipulation on later memory.

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