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

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Abstract

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.

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  • Strategies for verifying memories

    Rights statement: 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

    Accepted author manuscript, 757 KB, PDF-document

Details

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalMemory
VolumeEarly online
Early online date2 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2016

Bibliographic 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

    Keywords

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

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