Pezdek and Lam [Pezdek, K. & Lam, S. . What research paradigms have cognitive psychologists used to study “False memory,” and what are the implications of these choices? Consciousness and Cognition] claim that the majority of research into false memories has been misguided. Specifically, they charge that false memory scientists have been misusing the term “false memory,” relying on the wrong methodologies to study false memories, and misapplying false memory research to real world situations. We review each of these claims (...) and highlight the problems with them. We conclude that several types of false memory research have advanced our knowledge of autobiographical and recovered memories, and that future research will continue to make significant contributions to how we understand memory and memory errors. (shrink)
Extending a strategy previously used by Clancy, Schacter, McNally, and Pitman , we administered a neutral and a trauma-related version of the Deese–Roediger–McDermott paradigm to a sample of women reporting recovered or repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse , women reporting having always remembered their abuse , and women reporting no history of abuse . We found that individuals reporting recovered memories of CSA are more prone than other participants to falsely recalling and recognizing neutral words that were never presented. (...) Moreover, our study is the first to show that this finding even held when trauma-related material was involved. Correlational analyses revealed that fantasy proneness, but not self-reported traumatic experiences and dissociative symptoms were related to false recall and false recognition. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that traumatic experiences are processed and remembered in a qualitatively different way from neutral events. To investigate this issue, we interviewed 121 Croatian war veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder about amnesia, intrusions , and the sensory qualities of their most horrific war memories. Additionally, they completed a self-report scale measuring dissociative experiences. In contrast to what one would expect on the basis of theories emphasizing the special status of traumatic memories, amnesia, and high frequency intrusions (...) were not particularly typical for our sample of traumatized individuals. Moreover, traumatic memories were not qualitatively different from neutral memories with respect to their stability and sensory qualities. The severity of PTSD symptoms was not significantly correlated with dissociative experiences. Our findings do not support the existence of special memory mechanisms that are unique to experiencing traumatic events. (shrink)
The present study examined whether individuals with full-blown memories of highly implausible events are prone to commit source monitoring errors. Participants reporting previous-life memories and those without such memories completed a false fame task. This task provides an index of source monitoring errors . Participants with previous-life memories had a greater tendency to judge the names of previously presented non-famous people as famous than control participants. The two groups did not differ in terms of correct recognition of new non-famous names (...) and famous names. Although dissociation, cognitive failures, sleep-related experiences, depressive symptoms, and signs of psychological distress were all significantly higher in participants with previous-life memories than in controls, these variables did not predict the false fame illusion. (shrink)
Traditionally, recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse have been classified as those emerging spontaneously versus those surfacing during the course of suggestive therapy. There are indications that reinterpretation of memories might be a third route to recovered memories. Thus, recovered memories do not form a homogeneous category. Nevertheless, the conceptual distinctions between the various types of recovered memories remain difficult for researchers and clinicians. With this in mind, the current study explored whether recovered memories can be reliably classified. We found (...) that classification is rather problematic in a subset of cases. To reduce potential bias, we urge for the development and subsequent use of a more reliable classification system and multiple expert raters in research on recovered memories. (shrink)
In two studies, we explored whether susceptibility to false memories and the underestimation of prior memories tap overlapping memory phenomena. Study 1 investigated this issue by administering the Deese/Roediger–McDermott task and the forgot-it-all-along task to an undergraduate sample . It was furthermore explored how performances on these tasks correlate with clinically relevant traits such as fantasy proneness, dissociative experiences, and cognitive efficiency. Results show that FIA and DRM performances are relatively independent from each other, suggesting that these measures empirically apparently (...) refer to separate dimensions. However, they do not seem to define different profiles in terms of dissociation, fantasy proneness, and cognitive efficiency. Study 2 replicated the finding of relative independence between false memory propensity and the underestimation of prior memories in people with a history of childhood sexual abuse. (shrink)
We explored whether children’s suggestion-induced omission errors are caused by memory erasure. Seventy-five children were instructed to remove three pieces of clothing from a puppet. Next, they were confronted with evidence falsely suggesting that one of the items had not been removed. During two subsequent interviews separated by one week, children had to report which pieces of clothing they had removed. Children who during both interviews failed to report that they had removed the pertinent item completed a choice reaction time (...) task. In this task, they were presented with different clothing items. For each item, children had to indicate whether or not they had removed it. Significantly more errors were made for those removed items that children failed to report than for those they had not removed. This indicates that children’s suggestion-based omission errors are not due to erasure of memories. (shrink)
The nonrandom distribution of fears is not as clearly related to phylogenetically survival relevance as preparedness theory seems to imply. Although delayed extinction reflects some of the best human evidence for preparedness, even this phenomenon is not as robust as it once seemed to be. Apart from the evidence reviewed by Davey, recent studies from our laboratory provide further evidence for an expectancy bias model of selective associations.