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Behav Sci Law. 2013 Sep-Oct;31(5):652-65. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2078. Epub 2013 Jul 11.

Positive consequences of false memories.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, City University, London, U.K.

Abstract

Previous research is replete with examples of the negative consequences of false memories. In the current research, we provide a different perspective on false memories and their development and demonstrate that false memories can have positive consequences. Specifically, we examined the role false memories play in subsequent problem-solving tasks. Children and adults studied and recalled neutral or survival-relevant lists of associated words. They then solved age-normed compound remote associates, some of whose solutions had been primed by false memories created when studying the previous lists. The results showed that regardless of age: (a) survival-related words were not only better recollected but were also more susceptible than neutral words to false memory illusions; and (b) survival-related false memories were better than neutral false memories as primes for problem-solving. These findings are discussed in the context of recent speculation concerning the positive consequences of false memories, and the adaptive nature of reconstructive memory.

PMID:
23843125
DOI:
10.1002/bsl.2078
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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