Prior research on false memories has shown that suggestibility is often reduced when the presentation rate is slowed enough to allow monitoring. We examined whether slowing presentation speed would reduce factual errors learned from fictional stories. Would subjects use the extra time to detect the errors in the stories, reducing reproduction of these errors on a later test? Surprisingly, slowing presentation speed increased the production of story errors on a later general knowledge test. Instructing the reader to mark whether each sentence contained an error, however, did decrease suggestibility. Readers appear to passively accept information presented in stories and need a constant reminder to monitor for errors. These results highlight differences between typical episodic false memories and illusions of knowledge (such as learning from fiction). Manipulations that reduce suggestibility for episodic false memories do not always reduce suggestibility for illusions of knowledge.
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This research was supported by a collaborative activity award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
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Fazio, L.K., Marsh, E.J. Slowing presentation speed increases illusions of knowledge. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 15, 180–185 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.15.1.180
- Episodic Memory
- Prospective Memory
- Semantic Memory
- False Memory
- Fictional Story