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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1989 Mar;15(2):246-55.

Misled subjects may know more than their performance implies.

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Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Ohio 44242.


Many studies have demonstrated that subjects exposed to misleading postevent information are likely to report the misinformation with confidence on subsequent tests of memory for the event. The purpose of the present studies was to determine whether subjects exposed to misleading postevent information come to believe they remember seeing the misinformation at the original event. A second question addressed by the present studies is whether exposure to misinformation reduces subjects' ability to remember the source of items they witnessed at the original event. In two experiments, subjects viewed a slide sequence depicting an event, were subsequently exposed to misleading information or neutral information about selected aspects of the event, and were later tested on their memory for the source of original and misleading details. The results showed that exposure to misinformation did not lead subjects to believe they remembered seeing the misinformation, nor did it reduce subjects' ability to accurately identify the source of originally seen details. The same pattern of results was obtained whether subjects were tested immediately (Experiment 1) or after a 1-day delay (Experiment 2). Collectively, the results suggest that subjects may report misinformation even if they know they do not remember seeing it.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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