Effects of Postwarning Specificity on Memory Performance and Confidence in the Eyewitness Misinformation Paradigm

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Abstract

The influence of postevent misinformation on memory is typically constrained by postwarnings, but little is known about the effectiveness of particular features of postwarnings, such as their specificity. Experiment 1 compared 2 levels of postwarning specificity: A general postwarning just stated the presence of misinformation, whereas a specific postwarning identified the test items for which misinformation had been presented earlier. The specific postwarning, but not the general postwarning, eliminated both the misinformation effect and its deleterious impact on memory monitoring (using a classic 2-alternative forced-choice recognition procedure). Experiment 2 ruled out an alternative interpretation of these findings and replicated this postwarning specificity pattern using a cued-recall test. We observed, in addition to the moderating influence of task representations on misinformation acceptance, 2 unexpected facilitative effects on event memory caused by misinformation. Misinformation facilitated event memory during narrative encoding if discrepancies between the event and the narrative were detected (Experiment 1) and during retrieval if a specific postwarning was combined with cued recall (Experiment 2). We interpret the facilitative effect of discrepancy detection within a recursive-remindings framework on noticing and recollecting change.

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