Disowned recollections:denying true experiences undermines belief in occurrence but not judgments of remembering


Recent research findings have illustrated that false memories induced in the laboratory can be dissociated from the beliefs that the events had in fact occurred. In this study we assessed whether this dissociability is a quality peculiar to false memory, or whether it represents a general characteristic of autobiographical memory. To this end we examined whether people can be induced to stop believing in memories for true experiences. Participants observed and performed simple actions, and were later falsely informed that they had not performed some of them-that false memories for these actions had been implanted through the use of fabricated evidence. Before and after receiving this misinformation, participants rated their belief in and memory of performing those actions, other actions that they had also performed, and actions that they had not performed. Whereas the misinformation substantially undermined participants' beliefs in the specific performed actions about which they had been misinformed, it had little effect on their endorsement of remembering those actions. The misinformation thus boosted the proportion of occasions in which participants rated their memories as stronger than their beliefs, and it weakened the correlation between belief and memory ratings. Thus, this study provides the first experimental demonstration of non-believed memories of true experiences. We discuss our findings with reference to the small literature concerning the use of socially-communicated misinformation to undermine event memories, and with reference to the structure of autobiographical memory.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.11.007
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Psychologica. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Mazzoni, G, Clark, A & Nash, RA, 'Disowned recollections: denying true experiences undermines belief in occurrence but not judgments of remembering' Acta Psychologica, vol.145 (2014) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.11.007
Uncontrolled Keywords: autobiographical belief,autobiographical memory,non-believed memories,Experimental and Cognitive Psychology,Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous),Developmental and Educational Psychology
Publication ISSN: 0001-6918
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 07:11
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2015 14:40
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2014-01
Published Online Date: 2013-12-15
Authors: Mazzoni, Giuliana
Clark, Andrew
Nash, Robert A. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-2284-2001)



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only

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