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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Not All False Memories Are Created Equal

  • Author(s): Nichols, Rebecca Michelle
  • Advisor(s): Loftus, Elizabeth F.
  • et al.

Though there has been an abundance of experimental research in false memory phenomena over the last several decades, there is a surprising dearth of studies that examine whether or not people who are susceptible to false memories in certain conditions are also susceptible to false memories under other conditions. The dissertation research presented here addresses this issue. In one large study, subjects participated in three well-established false memory paradigms (a misinformation task, the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) list learning paradigm, and an imagination inflation exercise) as well as completed several individual difference measures. Results indicate that there are some small, positive, significant correlations between false memory variables in all three inter-paradigm comparisons. Moreover, while a handful of individual difference variables were correlated with some false memory variables in the DRM and imagination inflation paradigms, not one of them predicted false memories in the misinformation paradigm. Furthermore, only the Anomalous/Paranormal Experience Subscale of the Anomalous Events Inventory was correlated with both DRM and imagination inflated false memories. It seems likely that due to procedural dissimilarities, the variation in the proposed theoretical explanations, and the differing qualities of the false memories that each paradigm produces, there is no false memory "trait." In other words, no one type of person seems especially prone, or especially resilient, to the ubiquity of memory distortion.

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