A robust preference for cheap-and-easy strategies over reliable strategies when verifying personal memories


People depend on various sources of information when trying to verify their autobiographical memories. Yet recent research shows that people prefer to use cheap-and-easy verification strategies, even when these strategies are not reliable. We examined the robustness of this cheap strategy bias, with scenarios designed to encourage greater emphasis on source reliability. In three experiments, subjects described real (Experiments 1 and 2) or hypothetical (Experiment 3) autobiographical events, and proposed strategies they might use to verify their memories of those events. Subjects also rated the reliability, cost, and the likelihood that they would use each strategy. In line with previous work, we found that the preference for cheap information held when people described how they would verify childhood or recent memories (Experiment 1); personally-important or trivial memories (Experiment 2), and even when the consequences of relying on incorrect information could be significant (Experiment 3). Taken together, our findings fit with an account of source monitoring in which the tendency to trust one’s own autobiographical memories can discourage people from systematically testing or accepting strong disconfirmatory evidence.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2016.1214280
Dataset DOI: https://doi.org/10.17036/dcf4b463-35fd-41da-8710-b91b5967c2b4
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Memory on 02/08/2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09658211.2016.1214280
Uncontrolled Keywords: autobiographical memory,nonbelieved memories,false memory,decision making,cost,Psychology(all),Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 1464-0686
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2024 07:13
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2016 13:50
Full Text Link: http://www.tand ... 11.2016.1214280
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2017-07-01
Published Online Date: 2016-08-02
Accepted Date: 2016-07-13
Submitted Date: 2016-01-28
Authors: Nash, Robert A. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-2284-2001)
Wade, Kimberley A.
Garry, Maryanne
Adelman, James S.



Version: Accepted Version

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