Contemporary Psychology, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2013, 219-234

Original scientific paper

The Effect of Question Suggestibility and Type of Material on False Memories

Maks Vinšćak - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb
Andrea Vranić - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb

Fulltext (croatian, pages 219-234).pdf

According to the schema theory, when recalling an event we use stored information about this event, as well as the information stored in our schemas about such an event. This can often result in the recall of “false” memories. The aim of this research was to investigate the effect of suggestibility of questions (suggestive vs. nonsuggestive) and the type of material (video-clip vs. sequence of images showing a real robbery) on the number of false memories and the degree of confidence in these memories. A sample of N = 121 cultural anthropology students participated in a 2 × 2 mixed design experiment. After viewing one or the other type of material, their task was to state whether they remember some of the details. Half of the participants were asked suggestive questions, while the other half were asked non-suggestive questions. Participants viewing a sequence of images recalled more false memories (F(1/119) = 4,948; p < 0,05), and non-suggestive questions yielded more false memories (F(1/119) = 5,409; p < 0,05). Results of the post-hoc investigation hint that non-suggestive questions yielded a higher rate of false memories due to their generality. The degree of confidence in one’s own memory proved to be high regardless of the experimental conditions, which proves the robustness of this finding. This variable seems to be very complex in nature and is probably the result of some personality and motivation variables.

false memory, suggestibility, type of material, degree of confidence

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