Memorial Consequences of Forced Confabulation: Age Differences in Susceptibility to False Memories

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Abstract

Numerous studies have demonstrated that exposure to misinformation about a witnessed event can lead to false memories in both children and adults. The present study extends this finding by identifying forced confabulation as another potent suggestive influence. Participants from 3 age groups (1st grade, 3rd/4th grade, and college age) viewed a clip from a movie and were “forced” to answer questions about events that clearly never happened in the video they had seen. Despite evidence that participants would not have answered these questions had they not been coerced into doing so, 1 week later participants in all age groups came to have false memories for the details they had knowingly fabricated earlier. The results also showed that children were more prone to this memory error than were adults.

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