Memory & Cognition

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 630–640 | Cite as

Exploring the role of repetition and sensory elaboration in the imagination inflation effect

  • Ayanna K. ThomasEmail author
  • John B. Bulevich
  • Elizabeth F. Loftus


Two experiments were conducted to examine whether a misattribution of specific characteristics or a misattribution of global familiarity underlies false memories as assessed through imagination inflation. Using the paradigm developed by Goff and Roediger (1998), we found that the proportion of false memories increased with repeated imagination, replicating the imagination inflation effect. False memories developed through imagination were greatest in conditions that forced participants to include sensory detail in their imaginings. Finally, conscious recollection more often accompanied false memories in perceptually detailed imagination conditions, whereas feelings of familiarity more often accompanied false memories in conditions that lacked sensory cues. These results suggest that imagination that contains more perceptual information leads to more elaborate memory representations containing specific characteristics that can be confused with actually performed actions. Confusion based on these representations, as opposed to confusion based on processing fluency, is more likely to lead to false memories.


False Memory Mixed ANOVA Text Presentation Familiar Action Perceptual Detail 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ayanna K. Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • John B. Bulevich
    • 1
  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentWashington UniversitySt. Louis
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaIrvine

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