The misinformation effect refers to incorrect recall or source attribution of an item presented after a to-be-remembered event as having been presented.
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The misinformation effect refers to incorrect recall or source attribution of an item presented after a to-be-remembered event as having been presented during the to-be-remembered event. The current popularity of studying the misinformation effect can be traced back to 1974 when Loftus and Palmer demonstrated the effect of misleading post-event questions on memory. However, the bulk of research on misleading post-event information confounds presentation of plausible details (exposure) and implication that the details were present in the original event. Allen and Lindsay (1998) demonstrated that the misinformation effect could be obtained without any implication that the post-event information had been part of the original event. That is, memory accuracy is reduced by the presentation of semantically related, but non-episodically related information. However, the study did not examine the effect of implication on acceptance of post-event information. A second method used to reduce the role of implication could be called “warning studies.” Greene et al. (1982) found that warnings about misinformation prior to its presentation reduced later acceptance of that misinformation, whereas post-misinformation presentation warnings did not help. Later warning studies have produced mixed results concerning the efficacy of post-misinformation warnings (e.g., Wright, 1993; Chambers & Zaragoza, 2001). In misinformation studies implication may take two general forms. First, there may be explicitly stated implication (e.g., this narrative describes the event you just saw in the slide show). The second form is implicit implication. That is, the rememberer may infer that post-event information is an accurate recounting of the original event because there is significant overlap of detail between the two. Implication and Exposure: Informing Misinformation David R. Gerkens, Joelle M. Kline, Amanda R. Cross California State University, Fullerton Jessica Wood Mississippi State University Introduction Results Discussion Recall Test There was a large increase in misleading item recall when presented. However, there was a three way interaction: For the High Overlap condition the Implication Instruction seemed to both enhance recall of misleading items and reduce semantic based false recall. For the Low Overlap condition the Implication Instruction did not have a reliable effect on either misleading item recall or semantic based false recall. Therefore, the affect of implication on recall was only partially supported. Source Monitoring Task Participants recognized that misleading items had been on the post- event task approximately 36% of the time. However, they realized the item had not appeared on the original lists only about 8% of the time. Contrary to prediction, both forms of implication appear to have improved source monitoring accuracy. It should be noted that the accuracy of source attributions was poor in even the best conditions (≈ 17%). A post-hoc explanation is that both forms of implication made participants more aware of the possibility of confusing sources during the post-event task and consequently they paid more attention to source. Allen, B.P. & Lindsay, D. S. (1998). Amalgamations of memories: Intrusion of information from one event into reports of another, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 12, 277-285. Chambers, K. L., & Zaragoza, M. S. (2001). Intended and unintended effects of explicit warnings on eyewitness suggestibility: Evidence from source identification tests. Memory & Cognition, 29, 1120-1129. Greene, E., Flynn, M. B., & Loftus, E. F. (1982). Inducing resistance to misleading information. Journal of Learning & Verbal Behavior, 21, 207-219. Loftus, E. F. & Palmer (1974). Reconstruction of an automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 13, 585-589. Wright, D. B. (1993). Misinformation and warnings in eyewitness testimony: A new testing procedure to differentiate explanations. Memory, 1, 153-166. References Methods To-Be Remembered Event Math Problems Priming Task, No Implication Priming Task, Implication Cued Recall Source Monitoring Task Hypotheses There will be a significant misinformation effect on the recall test regardless of either type of implication. Both forms of implication will increase the size of the misinformation effect on the recall test. Participants will be able to identify that misinformation items were presented during the post-event task given source monitoring instructions. However, source monitoring instructions will only slightly reduce the illusion that misinformation items had appeared on the original lists. Both forms of implication would adversely affect the ability of source monitoring instructions to reduce misinformation acceptance. Implication Instructions Priming Task, No Implication In the next experiment you will see some words on the screen. Your task will be to give a pleasantness rating for each of the words. For the pleasantness rating, please indicate how these words make you feel on a scale of –3 to +3 (-3 meaning very bad, and +3 meaning very good). Each word will be presented briefly (2 seconds) followed by a blank slide. Please pay attention and respond quickly. Please rate every word. Priming Task, Relational Implication These instructions were identical to the no implication with the following addition: Also, note that some of the words that you will rate were also on the category lists that you originally studied. For those words, rate their pleasantness in relation to the other items on the studied lists. Rate the item a +3 if it is as pleasant as the most pleasant item on the list, a –3 if it is as unpleasant as the most unpleasant item on the list, or a number between that corresponds to the pleasantness of the word with which it is most similar in pleasantness. Conclusions The major source of episodic errors in recall (i.e., the misinformation effect) seems to be exposure to the items. Explicit implication in conjunction with high overlap between the context in which misinformation is presented and the original event both increases source errors and decreases semantic errors. However, if overlap between misinformation presentation and the original event is low, explicit implication has little effect. Both forms of implication seem to have made participants more aware of source during the post-event task. Although this improved source monitoring accuracy, participants were still more likely to incorrectly claim misleading items appeared in both sources rather than the post-event alone. Current Study The current experiment disentangles exposure and implication allowing for analysis of the independent contributions of each to recall and source attributions in a categorized word list paradigm that parallels the standard misinformation methodology. Exposure was manipulated by presenting or not presenting plausible category members that had not been in the original list learning task. Explicit implication was manipulated via instruction for the post-list learning task and implicit implication was manipulated by altering the proportion overlap of words in the list learning task and the post-list learning task.