Memory Distortions: Individual Differences and Paradigm Comparisons INTRODUCTION Memory distortions have been studied extensively over the last three decades, and several branches of research, or paradigms, have been used. Misinformation Paradigm Misleading post-event information can distort our memory for the original event (Loftus, 2005). Crashing Memory Paradigm Following the suggestion that footage of a news-event exists, when it actually does not exist, 30-40% of people reported having seeing the footage (Crombag et al., 1996). The event is typically upsetting, such as an assassination or crash. Imagination Inflation Paradigm Using guided imagery of a fictitious event later produces a false memory due to source confusion between the imagination and real events (Garry et al., 1996). Memory for Felt Emotion Inconsistency Although not traditionally considered a false memory paradigm, research has also suggested that memory for felt emotion is reconstructed and is changed according to current appraisals (Levine, 1997). In this study, each subject participated in all of these memory paradigms. We explored whether susceptibility in one paradigm would predict susceptibility in others. Lawrence Patihis, Steven J. Frenda, and Elizabeth F. Loftus Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine RESULTS DISCUSSION Before comparing paradigms, we confirmed that all four paradigms produced memory distortions/ inconsistencies comparable to previous research: Misinformation effect. 47% of participants robustly indicated at least one false memory. Experimental vs. control groups were reliably different on false memory endorsement (p’s < .0001). Crashing memory. Of those familiar with the United 93 crash, 42% indicated they had seen the crash footage in the questionnaire, but only 23% did so in the more indepth interview. Imagination inflation. 41% changed from saying “no,” they had not seen the footage, to “maybe” (36%) or “yes” (5%) after the imagination exercise. Memory for emotion. The second time they were asked, participants remembered feeling negative emotion less frequently after 911, and this was modified by thinking about a plane crash beforehand, consistent with affective adaptation and appraisal theories. Except for one small negative correlation, performance in each paradigm did not predict the others. Moreover, individual differences also did not predict the same paradigms. However, our findings may not generalize to all paradigms, because Otgaar et al. (2012) found that memory distortions in word list recall (Deese-Roediger-McDermott; DRM) predicted rich false memories in children (ŋ²p = 0.14). The present study suggests different mechanisms in those paradigms we looked at. The cognitive mechanisms involved in remembering mild slideshows from 1 hour ago are likely different from remembering disturbing plane crashes from 10 years ago. METHOD PARTICIPANTS 393 undergraduates completed the study, (M = 20; 75% female; 50% Asian, 21% Caucasian). MATERIALS AND PROCEDURE All subjects completed a 2 (misinformation effect) x 3 (crashing memory) experiment. Misinformation effect. 2 groups served as both experimental and control conditions for each other on different items. Materials consisted of photo slideshows of two simulated crimes, narratives with embedded misleading statement 40 minutes later, and a memory test 20 minutes after that. Crashing memory. 3 groups: “there is footage of the United 93 crash on September 11, 2001,” a “no footage” control, and a neutral 2001 newsevent control. A computer questionnaire was later followed up by an interview to test the questionnaire. Note that due to the age of the participants, the target event represents a potentially unpleasant childhood memory. Imagination inflation. In the interview, those who initially said they had not seen the United 93 footage were taken through an exercise of imagining the crash footage, to see if they would then flip and report seeing the nonexistent footage. Memory for emotion The same questions were asked, one week apart, about how often they felt various negative emotions in the week after September 11, 2001 (911). r = .09 ns age Various individual differences questionnaires (see Table 1) were completed on a computer in lab, over 2 sessions, one week apart. A sleep log was kept in the week between sessions. memory for emotion inconsistency r = -.11 p = .03 r = -.06 ns misinformation effect These results could imply that we would not be able to strongly predict whether someone may have false memories of an upsetting scene in childhood (like our manipulation involving nonexistent footage of a plane crash) by measuring them on a different false memory test, like a classic misinformation experiment. REFERENCES r = -.04 ns crashing memory r = -.02 ns imagination inflation Crombag, H. F. M., Wagenaar, W. A., & van Koppen, P. J. (1996). Crashing memories and the problem of source monitoring. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 95-104. Garry, M., Manning, C. G., Loftus, E. F., & Sherman, S. J. (1996). Imagination inflation: Imagining a childhood event inflates confidence that it occurred. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 3, 208–214. Levine, L. J. (1997). Reconstructing memory for emotions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126, 165-177. Loftus, E. F. (2005). Planting misinformation in the human mind: A 30-year investigation into the malleability of memory. Learning & Memory, 12, 361-366. Otgaar, H., Verschuere, B.,Meijer, E. H., van Oorsouw, K., (2012). The origin of children's implanted false memories: Memory traces or compliance? Acta Psychologica, 139, 397-403. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS not comparable with this study design Figure 1. Correlations between paradigms. Illustration of the small amount of variance, 1% or less, that is explained by one paradigm on another. ns indicates memory distortion/inconsistency in one paradigm does not predict the other. Memory for emotion inconsistency predicts less susceptibility to the misinformation effect, although the effect is small. Our study had some limitations: the imagination inflation manipulation had a short 1 minute interval between exercise and test, as well as having no control group. Three of our paradigms were related to 911, and future research could try comparing these paradigms with unrelated target events. This research was helped in part by a grant from UC Irvine’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, and by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship to Lawrence Patihis. We extend our thanks to the undergraduate research assistants who helped conduct the study: Matthew Miller, Lavina Ho, Stephany Debski, Stephanie Martinez, Neda Bozorgkhan, Hoang Nguyen, Patricia Place, Gina Machiaverna, Alex Chindri, Monica Aguilar, Paddy Asgari, Yesenia Orozco, Luis Garcia, Natalie Ross, Samuel Cretcher, Devan Duenas, and Hillary Patton. We are grateful to the Loftus graduate students who helped with ideas during study development, including Ian Tingen and Rebecca Nichols.