A robust preference for cheap-and-easy strategies over reliable strategies when verifying personal memories

Robert A. Nash*, Kimberley A. Wade, Maryanne Garry, James S. Adelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People depend on various sources of information when trying to verify their autobiographical memories. Yet recent research shows that people prefer to use cheap-and-easy verification strategies, even when these strategies are not reliable. We examined the robustness of this cheap strategy bias, with scenarios designed to encourage greater emphasis on source reliability. In three experiments, subjects described real (Experiments 1 and 2) or hypothetical (Experiment 3) autobiographical events, and proposed strategies they might use to verify their memories of those events. Subjects also rated the reliability, cost, and the likelihood that they would use each strategy. In line with previous work, we found that the preference for cheap information held when people described how they would verify childhood or recent memories (Experiment 1); personally-important or trivial memories (Experiment 2), and even when the consequences of relying on incorrect information could be significant (Experiment 3). Taken together, our findings fit with an account of source monitoring in which the tendency to trust one’s own autobiographical memories can discourage people from systematically testing or accepting strong disconfirmatory evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-899
Number of pages10
Early online date2 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Memory on 02/08/2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09658211.2016.1214280


  • autobiographical memory
  • nonbelieved memories
  • false memory
  • decision making
  • cost


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