Skip to main content

Evoking false beliefs about autobiographical experience

Abstract

In two experiments, we demonstrate that laboratory procedures can evoke false beliefs about autobiographical experience. After shallowly processing photographs of real-world locations, participants returned 1 week (Experiments 1 and 2) or 3 weeks (Experiment 2) later to evaluate whether they had actually visited each of a series of new and old pictured locations. Mundane and unique scenes from an unfamiliar college campus (Duke or SMU) were shown zero, one, or two times in the first session. Prior exposure increased participants’ beliefs that they had visited locations that they had never actually visited. Furthermore, participants gave higher visit ratings to mundane than to unique scenes, and this did not vary with exposure frequency or delay. This laboratory procedure for inducing autobiographical false beliefs may have implications for better understanding various illusions of recognition.

References

  1. Bernstein, D. M., Godfrey, R. D., Davison, A., & Loftus, E. F. (2004). Conditions affecting the revelation effect for autobiographical memory. Memory & Cognition, 32, 455–462.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bernstein, D. M., Whittlesea, B. W. A., & Loftus, E. F. (2002). Increasing confidence in remote autobiographical memory and general knowledge: Extensions of the revelation effect. Memory & Cognition, 30, 432–438.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bernstein, I. H., & Welch, K. R. (1991). Awareness, false recognition, and the Jacoby-Whitehouse effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 120, 324–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brown, A. S. (2003). A review of the déjà vu experience. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 394–413.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Brown, A. S. (2004). The déjà vu experience. New York: Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Brown, A. S., Jones, T. C., & Mitchell, D. B. (1996). Single and multiple test repetition priming in implicit memory. Memory, 4, 159–173.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brown, A. S., & Nix, L. A. (1996). Turning lies into truths: Referential validation of falsehoods. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 22, 1088–1100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cave, C. B. (1997). Very long-lasting priming in picture naming. Psychological Science, 8, 322–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hyman, I. E., Jr., Husband, T. H., & Billings, F. J. (1995). False memories of childhood experiences. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 9, 181–197.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Jacoby, L. L. (1999). Ironic effects of repetition: Measuring age-related differences in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 25, 3–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C., Brown, J., & Jasechko, J. (1989). Becoming famous overnight: Limits on the ability to avoid unconscious influences of the past. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 56, 326–338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Jacoby, L. L., & Whitehouse, K. (1989). An illusion of memory: False recognition influenced by unconscious perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 126–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Johnston, W. A., Dark, V. J., & Jacoby, L. L. (1985). Perceptual fluency and recognition judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 11, 3–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Joordens, S., & Merikle, P. M. (1992). False recognition and perception without awareness. Memory & Cognition, 20, 151–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Kunst-Wilson, W. R., & Zajonc, R. B. (1980). Affective discrimination of stimuli that cannot be recognized. Science, 207, 557–558.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Loftus, E. F., & Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25, 720–725.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Mitchell, D. B. (2006). Nonconscious priming after 17 years: Invulnerable implicit memory? Psychological Science, 17, 925–929.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Mitchell, D. B., & Brown, A. S. (1988). Persistent repetition priming in picture naming and its dissociation from recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 14, 213–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Roediger, H. L., [III], & McDermott, K. B. (1993). Implicit memory in normal human subjects. In F. Boller & J. Grafman (Eds.), Handbook of neuropsychology, Vol. 8 (pp. 63–131). New York: Elsevier.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Seamon, J. G., Brody, N., & Kauff, D. M. (1983). Affective discrimination of stimuli that are not recognized: II. Effect of delay between study and test. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 21, 187–189.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Tulving, E., Schacter, D. L., & Stark, H. A. (1982). Priming effects in word-fragment completion are independent of recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 8, 336–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Whittlesea, B. W. A., & Price, J. R. (2001). Implicit/explicit memory versus analytic/nonanalytic processing: Rethinking the mere exposure effect. Memory & Cognition, 29, 234–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alan S. Brown.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Brown, A.S., Marsh, E.J. Evoking false beliefs about autobiographical experience. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 15, 186–190 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.15.1.186

Download citation

Keywords

  • Prior Exposure
  • False Memory
  • Implicit Memory
  • False Recognition
  • Revelation Effect