On the persuadability of memory

is changing people's memories no more than changing their minds?

Robert A. Nash, Rebecca L. Wheeler, Lorraine Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The observation of parallels between the memory distortion and persuasion literatures leads, quite logically, to the appealing notion that people can be 'persuaded' to change their memories. Indeed, numerous studies show that memory can be influenced and distorted by a variety of persuasive tactics, and the theoretical accounts commonly used by researchers to explain episodic and autobiographical memory distortion phenomena can generally predict and explain these persuasion effects. Yet, despite these empirical and theoretical overlaps, explicit reference to persuasion and attitude-change research in the memory distortion literature is surprisingly rare. In this paper, we argue that stronger theoretical foundations are needed to draw the memory distortion and persuasion literatures together in a productive direction. We reason that theoretical approaches to remembering that distinguish (false) beliefs in the occurrence of events from (false) memories of those events - compatible with a source monitoring approach - would be beneficial to this end. Such approaches, we argue, would provide a stronger platform to use persuasion findings to enhance the psychological understanding of memory distortion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-326
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume106
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

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Persuasive Communication
Episodic Memory
Persuasion
Research Personnel
Observation
Psychology
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Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Nash, R. A., Wheeler, R. L., & Hope, L. (2015). On the persuadability of memory: is changing people's memories no more than changing their minds?. British journal of psychology, 106(2), 308-326, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12074. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Keywords

  • attitude change
  • autobiographical belief
  • false memory
  • memory distortion
  • persuasion
  • social influence
  • source monitoring

Cite this

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On the persuadability of memory : is changing people's memories no more than changing their minds? / Nash, Robert A.; Wheeler, Rebecca L.; Hope, Lorraine.

In: British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 106, No. 2, 05.2015, p. 308-326.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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