Adaptive false memory: Imagining future scenarios increases false memories in the DRM paradigm

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that rating words for their relevance to a future scenario enhances memory for those words. The current study investigated the effect of future thinking on false memory using the Deese/Roediger–McDermott (DRM) procedure. In Experiment 1, participants rated words from 6 DRM lists for relevance to a past or future event (with or without planning) or in terms of pleasantness. In a surprise recall test, levels of correct recall did not vary between the rating tasks, but the future rating conditions led to significantly higher levels of false recall than the past and pleasantness conditions did. Experiment 2 found that future rating led to higher levels of false recognition than did past and pleasantness ratings but did not affect correct recognition. The effect in false recognition was, however, eliminated when DRM items were presented in random order. Participants in Experiment 3 were presented with both DRM lists and lists of unrelated words. Future rating increased levels of false recognition for DRM lures but did not affect correct recognition for DRM or unrelated lists. The findings are discussed in terms of the view that false memories can be associated with adaptive memory functions.

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Dewhurst, S. A., Anderson, R. J., Grace, L., & van Esch, L. (2016). Adaptive false memory: Imagining future scenarios increases false memories in the DRM paradigm. Memory and Cognition, 44(7), 1076–1084. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-016-0620-0

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