Memory & Cognition

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1077–1086 | Cite as

Conformity effects in memory for actions



The goal of this research was to examine whether memories for actions can be affected by information reported by another person. In two studies, pairs of participants performed 48 of a set of 96 actions. In Study 1, both members of the pairs performed the same actions, and in Study 2, they performed different actions. One week later, the members of the pairs were questioned together about whether they had or had not done all 96 actions. What one person reported greatly influenced what the other person reported for both correct and incorrect responses. This influence was maintained when the participants were later tested individually, and the participants described having pictorial memories for doing many of the actions that they had not done but had merely been suggested.


  1. Af Hjelmsäter, E. R., Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., & Memon, A. (2008). The effects of social influence on children’s memory reports: The omission and commission error asymmetry. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49, 507–513. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2008.00679.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agresti, A. (2002). Categorical data analysis (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193, 31–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Axmacher, N., Gossen, A., Elger, C. E., & Fell, J. (2010). Graded effects of social conformity on recognition memory. PLoS ONE, 5, e9270. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009270CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Baayen, R. H., Davidson, D. J., & Bates, D. M. (2008). Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items. Journal of Memory & Language, 59, 390–412. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2007.12.005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baron, R. S., Vandello, J. A., & Brunsman, B. (1996). The forgotten variable in conformity research: Impact of task importance on social influence. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 71, 915–927. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.71.5.915CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bates, D., & Maechler, M. (2009). lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes (R package Version 0.999375-32). Retrieved from Scholar
  8. Blank, H. (2009). Remembering: A theoretical interface between memory and social psychology. Social Psychology, 40, 164–175. doi:10.1027/1864-9335.40.3.164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bodner, G. E., Musch, E., & Azad, T. (2009). Reevaluating the potency of the memory conformity effect. Memory & Cognition, 37, 1069–1076. doi:10.3758/MC.37.8.1069CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cialdini, R. B. (2008). Influence: Science and practice (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155–159. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.155CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 51, 629–636. doi:10.1037/ h0046408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Echterhoff, G., & Hirst, W. (2009). Social influence on memory. Social Psychology, 40, 106–110. doi:10.1027/1864-9335.40.3.106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Engelkamp, J. (1998). Memory for actions. Hove, U.K.: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  15. Engelkamp, J. (2001). Action memory: A system-oriented approach. In H. D. Zimmer, R. L. Cohen, M. J. Guynn, J. Engelkamp, R. Kormi-Nouri, & M. A. Foley (Eds.), Memory for action: A distinct form of episodic memory? (pp. 49–96). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Engelkamp, J., & Krumnacker, H. (1980). Imaginale und motorische Prozesse beim Behalten verbalen Materials. Zeitschrift für Experimentelle und Angewandte Psychologie, 27, 511–533.Google Scholar
  17. French, L., Gerrie, M. P., Garry, M., & Mori, K. (2009). Evidence for the efficacy of the MORI technique: Viewers do not notice or implicitly remember details from the alternative movie version. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 1224–1232. doi:10.3758/BRM.41.4.1224CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gabbert, F., Memon, A., & Allan, K. (2003). Memory conformity: Can eyewitnesses influence each other’s memories for an event? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 533–543. doi:10.1002/acp.885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gabbert, F., Memon, A., & Wright, D. B. (2007). I saw it for longer than you: The relationship between perceived encoding duration and memory conformity. Acta Psychologica, 124, 319–331. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.03.009CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Goff, L. M., & Roediger, H. L., III (1998). Imagination inflation for action events: Repeated imaginings lead to illusory recollections. Memory & Cognition, 26, 20–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goldstein, H. (2003). Multilevel statistical models (3rd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  22. Gudjonsson, G. H., & MacKeith, J. A. (1982). False confessions: Psychological effects of interrogation. A discussion paper. In A. Trankell (Ed.), Reconstructing the past: The role of psychologists in criminal trials (pp. 253–269). Deventer, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  23. Hirst, W., & Manier, D. (2008). Towards a psychology of collective memory. Memory, 16, 183–200. doi:10.1080/09658210701811912CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hope, L., Ost, J., Gabbert, F., Healey, S., & Lenton, E. (2008). “With a little help from my friends …”: The role of co-witness relationship in susceptibility to misinformation. Acta Psychologica, 127, 476–484. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2007.08.010CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Johnson, M. K., Hashtroudi, S., & Lindsay, D. S. (1993). Source monitoring. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3–28. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.1.3CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kassin, S. M. (2008). The psychology of confessions. Annual Review of Law & Social Science, 4, 193–217. doi:10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.4.110707.172410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kelman, H. C. (1958). Compliance, identification, and internalization: Three processes of attitude change. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2, 51–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindsay, D. S., & Johnson, M. K. (1989). The eyewitness suggestibility effect and memory for source. Memory & Cognition, 17, 349–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Loftus, E. F. (2005). Planting misinformation in the human mind: A 30-year investigation of the malleability of memory. Learning & Memory, 12, 361–366. doi:10.1101/lm.94705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Loftus, G. R., & Bell, S. M. (1975). Two types of information in picture memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 1, 103–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. MacDonald, C. B., & Davey, G. C. L. (2005). A mood-as-input account of perseverative checking: The relationship between stop rules, mood and confidence in having checked successfully. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 43, 69–91. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2003.11.003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mazzoni, G. (2002). Naturally occurring and suggestion-dependent memory distortions: The convergence of disparate research traditions. European Psychologist, 7, 17–30. doi: 10.1027//1016-9040.7.1.17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Meade, M. L., & Roediger, H. L., III (2002). Explorations in the social contagion of memory. Memory & Cognition, 30, 995–1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Merckelbach, H., Van Roermund, H., &, Candel, I. (2007). Effects of collaborative recall: Denying true information is as powerful as suggesting misinformation. Psychology, Crime & Law, 13, 573–581. doi:10.1080/10683160601160679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mori, K. (2007). A revised method for projecting two different movies to two groups of viewers without their noticing the duality. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 574–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nilsson, L.-G., & Kormi-Nouri, R. (2001). What is the meaning of a memory-systems approach? Comments on Engelkamp. In H. D. Zimmer, R. L. Cohen, M. J. Guynn, J. Engelkamp, R. Kormi-Nouri, & M. A. Foley (Eds.), Memory for action: A distinct form of episodic memory? (pp. 136–143). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Paterson, H. M., & Kemp, R. I. (2006a). Comparing methods of encountering post-event information: The power of co-witness suggestion. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 1083–1099. doi:10.1002/acp.1261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Paterson, H. M., & Kemp, R. I. (2006b). Co-witnesses talk: A survey of eyewitness discussion. Psychology, Crime & Law, 12, 181–191. doi:10.1080/10683160512331316334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reysen, M. B. (2005). The effects of conformity on recognition judgements. Memory, 13, 87–94. doi:10.1080/09658210344000602CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Roediger, H. L., III (2010). Reflections on intersections between cognitive and social psychology: A personal exploration. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 189–205. doi:10.1002/ejsp.736Google Scholar
  41. Roediger, H. L., III, Meade, M. L., & Bergman, E. T. (2001). Social contagion of memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8, 365–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schneider, D. M., & Watkins, M. J. (1996). Response conformity in recognition testing. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 3, 481–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sherif, M. (1936). The psychology of social norms. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  44. Skagerberg, E. M. (2006). Co-witness feedback in lineups. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21, 489–497. doi:10.1002/acp.1285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Skagerberg, E. M., & Wright, D. B. (2008a). Manipulating power can affect memory conformity. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 207–216. doi:10.1002/acp.1353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Skagerberg, E. M., & Wright, D. B. (2008b). The prevalence of co-witnesses and co-witness discussions in real eyewitnesses. Psychology, Crime & Law, 14, 513–521. doi:10.1080/10683160801948980CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Skagerberg, E. M., & Wright, D. B. (2009). Susceptibility to post-identification feedback is affected by source credibility. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 506–523. doi:10.1002/acp. 1470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tulving, E. (1985). Memory and consciousness. Canadian Psychology, 26, 1–12.Google Scholar
  49. Wright, D. B., Gabbert, F., Memon, A., & London, K. (2008). Changing the criterion for memory conformity in free recall and recognition. Memory, 16, 137–148. doi:10.1080/09658210701836174CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Wright, D. B., Loftus, E. F., & Hall, M. (2001). Now you see it; now you don’t: Inhibiting recall and recognition of scenes. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 15, 471–482. doi:10.1002/acp.719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wright, D. B., & London, K. (2009). Multilevel modelling: Beyond the basic applications. British Journal of Mathematical & Statistical Psychology, 62, 439–456. doi:10.1348/000711008X327632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wright, D. B., London, K., & Waechter, M. (2010). Social anxiety moderates memory conformity in adolescents. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 1034–1045.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wright, D. B., Mathews, S. A., & Skagerberg, E. M. (2005). Social recognition memory: The effect of other people’s responses for previously seen and unseen items. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 11, 200–209. doi:10.1037/1076-898X.11.3.200CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Wright, D. B., Memon, A., Skagerberg, E. M., & Gabbert, F. (2009). When eyewitnesses talk. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 174–178. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01631.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wright, D. B., Self, G., & Justice, C. (2000). Memory conformity: Exploring misinformation effects when presented by another person. British Journal of Psychology, 91, 189–202.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Zimmer, H. D. (2001). Why do actions speak louder than words? Action memory as a variant of encoding manipulations or the result of a specific memory system. In H. D. Zimmer, R. L. Cohen, M. J. Guynn, J. Engelkamp, R. Kormi-Nouri, & M. A. Foley (Eds.), Memory for action: A distinct form of episodic memory? (pp. 151–198). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Zimmer, H. D., Cohen, R. L., Guynn, M. J., Engelkamp, J., Kormi-Nouri, R., & Foley, M. A. (Eds.) (2001). Memory for action: A distinct form of episodic memory? New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida International UniversityMiami

Personalised recommendations