Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 359–366 | Cite as

Actually, a picture is worth less than 45 words: Narratives produce more false memories than photographs do

  • Maryanne Garry
  • Kimberley A. Wade
Brief Reports


Most memory “implantation” studies have elicited false memories by using fake narratives. Recently, Wade, Garry, Read, and Lindsay (2002) showed that doctored photographs can be used to create false childhood memories in adults. Fifty percent of Wade et al.’s sample reported details of taking a childhood hot air balloon ride, although they had never been in a balloon. In this experiment, we investigated whether photos or narratives influence memory more than the other. We exposed subjects to either a fake photograph or a fake narrative of a childhood hot air balloon ride. Subjects tried to remember the false event and three real events over 1 week. Narratives were more likely to produce false memory reports than were photos. We offer a fluency-based account of our results and suggest that narratives promote more familiarity in subjects than do photographs.


False Memory Autobiographical Memory False Event Narrative Group Memory Category 
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. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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