Memory & Cognition

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 770–782 | Cite as

How eyewitnesses resist misinformation: Social postwarnings and the monitoring of memory characteristics

  • Gerald Echterhoff
  • William Hirst
  • Walter Hussy


Previous findings have been equivocal as to whether the postevent misinformation effect on eyewitness memory is reduced by warnings presentedafter the misinformation (postwarnings). In the present research, social postwarnings, which characterize the postevent source as a low-credibility individual, diminished the misinformation effect in both cued recall and recognition tests. Discrediting the source as being either untrustworthy or incompetent was effective (Experiment 1). Also, postwarned participants rated reality characteristics of their memories more accurately than did participants receiving no or high-credibility information about the postevent source (Experiment 2). A social postwarning yielded the same results as an explicit source-monitoring appeal and led to longer response times for postevent items, relative to a no-warning condition (Experiments 3 and 4). The findings suggest that the reduced misinformation effect was due to more thorough monitoring of memory characteristics by postwarned participants, rather than to a stricter response criterion or to enhanced event memory.


Recognition Test False Memory Item Type Source Memory Social Validation 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Echterhoff
    • 1
  • William Hirst
    • 1
  • Walter Hussy
    • 2
  1. 1.New School UniversityNew YorkNew York
  2. 2.University of CologneCologneGermany

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