Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 155–161 | Cite as

“If I had said it I would have remembered it: Reducing false memories with a distinctiveness heuristic

  • Chad S. Dodson
  • Daniel L. Schacter
Brief Reports


We examined the contributions of decision processes to the rejection of false memories. In two experiments, people studied lists of semantically related words and then completed a recognition test containing studied words, unrelated lure words, and related lure words. People who said words aloud at study were less likely to falsely recognize related lures on the test than were those who heard words at study. We suggest that people who said words at study employed a distinctiveness heuristic during the test whereby they demanded access to distinctive say information in order to judge an item as old. Even when retrieving say information is not perfectly diagnostic of prior study, as in Experiment 2, in which participants both said and heard words at study, people persist in using the distinctiveness heuristic to reduce false memories.


Recognition Rate Recognition Test False Memory Study List Related Word 
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. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridge

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