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Psychon Bull Rev. 2007 Dec;14(6):1090-5.

"You and your best friend Suzy put slime in Ms. Smollett's desk": producing false memories with self-relevant details.

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  • 1University of Windsor, Windsor Ontario, Canada.


Rates of false memory reports vary markedly in the published literature. In an effort to explain these differences, the present study investigated the effects of including different types of details in a false narrative upon subsequent false memory formation. Participants were assigned to one of four conditions in which the inclusion of self-relevant and/or specific details in a false event (putting a toy in a teacher's desk) was manipulated. Participants engaged in a standard memory recovery procedure over three interviews, involving recall for three true and one false event Upon completion, 68.2% of participants in self-relevant groups were judged as having created memories or images about the false event, as compared with 36.4% in non-self-relevant groups. Subjective ratings of memory intensity were higher for self-relevant groups, and self-relevant participants were less likely to correctly guess the false event. These findings indicate that including self-relevant details in suggested childhood events increases the likelihood that such events will be accepted as false memories.

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