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Memory. 2004 Jan;12(1):14-26.

When a lie becomes the truth: the effects of self-generated misinformation on eyewitness memory.

Author information

  • Department of Psychological Science, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA. kpickel@bsu.edu


This research investigated whether generating misinformation impairs memory for actual information. After watching a videotaped robbery, some witnesses were interviewed about it, but others did not rehearse the event details. One week later, the witnesses tried to remember the robber's appearance. In Experiment 1, those who fabricated a description of the robber during the interview and those who did not rehearse remembered fewer correct details than did truthful witnesses or those who fabricated about another person. Witnesses who fabricated about the robber also reported more incorrect details than did truthful or non-interviewed witnesses. In Experiment 2, witnesses who fabricated about the robber performed as poorly on the memory test as did witnesses who answered interview questions using false information prepared for them. In both experiments deceptive witnesses sometimes reported invented details on the memory test, suggesting that they may have come to believe some fabrications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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