Are nonconscious processes sufficient to produce false memories?

Consciousness and Cognition 13 (1):158-168 (2004)
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Abstract

Seamon, Luo, and Gallo reported evidence that nonconscious processes could produce false recognition in a converging-associates task, whereby subjects falsely remember a nonstudied lure after studying a list of related words . Zeelenberg, Plomp, and Raaijmakers failed to observe this false recognition effect when list word recognition was at chance. We critically evaluate the evidence for nonsconscious processing and report the results of a new experiment designed to overcome previous methodological limitations. Consistent with Seamon et al., we found that conscious activation of a related lure during study was not necessary for its subsequent recognition; consistent with Zeelenberg et al., we found no evidence for recognition of related lures under conditions where there was no memory for studied words. It is currently unknown whether conscious recollection of the studied items is necessary for false recognition or if nonconscious activation of the lure is sufficient

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