Fact and fantasy: The roles of accuracy and variability in confusing imaginations with perceptual experiences

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Abstract

In Exp I, 40 undergraduates were presented with pictures 2, 5, or 8 times and were asked to imagine each picture 2, 5, or 8 times. Subsequently, Ss estimated the number of times each picture had been presented. Their estimates of the frequency of these external events were influenced by imagination trials; this effect was greater for good imagers than for poor imagers. Exp II involved a similar design in which 40 additional undergraduates were asked either to imagine the same referent for a word or to imagine a different referent for a word on successive imagination trials. Consistency (same referent) did not increase the influence of imaginations on immediate judgments of external frequency. Thus, the results of Exp I are attributed to the greater accuracy (as opposed to greater consistency) of good imagers' internal generations of the stimuli. Furthermore, variation (imagining different referents), like greater accuracy, increased the effects of imagination trials on immediate but not on delayed judgments of frequency. Possible mechanisms underlying these effects are discussed. In general, the 2 studies show that qualitative characteristics of completely covert generations influence their impact on estimates of the frequency of external events. (17 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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