Memory & Cognition

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 423–431

Creating bizarre false memories through imagination


DOI: 10.3758/BF03194942

Cite this article as:
Thomas, A.K. & Loftus, E.F. Memory & Cognition (2002) 30: 423. doi:10.3758/BF03194942


The present study explored memory for familiar or usual actions (e.g., flip the coin) and bizarre or unusual actions (e.g., sit on the dice). In Session l, action statements were presented to 210 participants, who had to either perform or imagine those actions. In Session 2, 24 h later, participants imagined performing various actions, some presented in the first session and others totally new. Finally, in Session 3, 2 weeks later, participants were tested on their memory for the original actions. We found that as the number of imaginings increased in Session 2, so did the proportion ofdid responses to actions that were only imagined or not even presented. This pattern was present for both bizarre and familiar actions. These results demonstrate that bizarre actions may lose the item distinctiveness that is used to make accurate memory decisions after repeated imagination.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattle
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentWashington UniversitySt. Louis

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