Testing potentiates new learning in the misinformation paradigm
Retrieval enhanced suggestibility (RES) is the finding that the misinformation effect is exacerbated when a test precedes misleading postevent information (Chan, Thomas, & Bulevich Psychological Science 20: 66–73, 2009). In the present study, we tested three hypotheses relevant to RES. First, we examined whether retrieval of critical details was necessary for the RES effect. Second, we examined whether initial testing influenced the allocation of attention to critical details during postevent information processing. Finally, we examined whether RES resulted in impaired access to the originally learned information. We compared three groups of participants in three experiments: an identical-test group, a related-test group, and a standard misinformation group. Both testing groups were tested on the original event before the introduction of misinformation; however, the identical-test group took the same test before and after the misinformation, whereas the related-test group took different tests before and after misinformation. We found that testing before misleading postevent information affected attention allocation to details in the postevent narrative. Furthermore, the RES effect did not accompany reduced accessibility to the original information, as measured by a modified–modified free recall test. These data have implications for how testing may potentiate new learning.
KeywordsEyewitness memory Misinformation effect New learning Retrieval Testing effect
We thank Jason C. K. Chan and John B. Bulevich for comments on earlier drafts. We also thank research assistants Shelci Bowman, William Carroll, Paul Cernasov, Caroline Chen, Darius Izadpanah, and Alex Schmider for data collection and scoring.
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