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Socially induced false memories in the absence of misinformation

When we misremember a previous event, this often occurs because we receive factually wrong information from others about the event and then are influenced by this misinformation. However, other people can induce false memories also in much more subtle ways that do not involve any communication of misinformation. This is demonstrated in a new article in "Scientific Reports", published by FOR 2812 members Ullrich Wagner and Gerald Echterhoff from the University of Münster, together with their cooperation partner Pascal Schlechter from the University of Cambridge (UK). The paper shows that mere co-monitoring of stimuli with a partner in a joint task at encoding can be sufficient to create false memories, even quite vivid and detailed ones, despite the absence of any misinformation (or even of any conversation between the partners at all). The results are theoretically important because they demonstate a new, unobtrusive form of social influence that can generate false memories. However, they are potentially also relevant practically, e.g. in forensic contexts, considering that this subtle mechanism may also affect eyewitness memories under certain conditions.

The full article can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-11749-w

Picture courtesy of pixabay.com

The research unit FOR 2812 "Constructing scenarios of the past: A new framework in episodic memory" is a project funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). The research unit studies the cognitive and neuronal mechanisms underlying scenario construction in episodic memory. We employ and integrate approaches from Philosophy, Psychology, and Experimental and Computational Neuroscience.


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