, Volume 37, Issue 8, pp 1069-1076

Reevaluating the potency of the memory conformity effect

Abstract

Witnesses sometimes report event details that are acquired solely from another witness. We reevaluated the potency of this memory conformity effect. After viewing a crime video, some participants learned about nonwitnessed details via discussion (dyad group), reading another participant’s report (read group), or watching another version of the video (both-video group). In Experiment 1, these participants often reported nonwitnessed details, but on a source-judgment test most details were attributed primarily to the actual source rather than to the video. In addition, the dyad group was not more likely than the read or both-video groups to report nonwitnessed details. Participants in Experiment 2 were explicitly discouraged from providing details that were remembered from the secondary source only. These postwarning instructions substantially reduced the memory conformity effect, and a dyad group was not more likely than a read group to report nonwitnessed details. Encouraging source monitoring at test can reduce the negative consequences of co-witness collaboration.
This research was supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to G.E.B.