Digitally manipulating memory: effects of doctored videos and imagination in distorting beliefs and memories

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In prior research on false autobiographical beliefs and memories, subjects have been asked to imagine fictional events and have been exposed to false evidence that indicates that the fictional events occurred. But what are the relative contributions of imagination and false evidence toward false belief and memory construction? In the present study, subjects observed and copied various simple actions; then they viewed doctored videos that suggested that they had performed extra actions and they imagined performing some of those and some other actions. Subjects returned 2 weeks later for a memory test. False evidence or imagination alone was often sufficient to cause belief and memory distortions; in combination, they appeared to have additive or even superadditive effects. The results bear on the mechanisms underlying false beliefs and memories, and we propose legal and clinical applications of these findings.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-424
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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