Article

Memory & Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 349-358

The eyewitness suggestibility effect and memory for source

  • D. Stephen LindsayAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Bronfman Science Center, Williams College
  • , Marcia K. JohnsonAffiliated withPrinceton University

Abstract

We examined the possibility that eyewitness suggestibility reflects failures of the processes by which people normally discriminate between memories derived from different sources. To test this hypothesis, misled and control subjects were tested either with a yes/no recognition test or with a “source monitoring” test designed to orient subjects to attend to information about the sources of their memories. The results demonstrate that suggestibility effects obtained with a recognition test can be eliminated by orienting subjects toward thinking about the sources of their memories while taking the test. Our findings indicate that although misled subjects are capable of identifying the source of their memories of misleading suggestions, they nonetheless sometimes misidentify them as memories derived from the original event. The extent to which such errors reflect genuine memory confusions (produced, for example, by lax judgment criteria) or conscious misattributions (perhaps due to demand characteristics) remains to be specified.