, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 770-775

I misremember it well: Why older adults are unreliable eyewitnesses

Abstract

We used the eyewitness suggestibility paradigm to investigate the hypothesis that cognitive aging is associated with an increase in misrecollections—confidently held but false memories of past events. When younger and older adults were matched on their overall memory for experienced events, both groups showed comparable rates of suggestibility errors in which they claimed to have seen events in a video that had only been suggested in a subsequent questionnaire. However, older adults were—alarmingly—most likely to commit suggestibility errors when they were most confident about the correctness of their response. By contrast, their younger, accuracy-matched counterparts were most likely to commit these errors when they were uncertain about the accuracy of their response. The elderly adults’ propensity to make high-confidence errors fits our misrecollection account.