Motivated False Memory

Journal of Political Economy, 128(10), 3913-3939

83 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2012 Last revised: 16 Aug 2021

See all articles by Soo Hong Chew

Soo Hong Chew

National University of Singapore; National University of Singapore; HKUST

Wei Huang

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - CUHK Business School

Xiaojian Zhao

Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 24, 2020

Abstract

People often forget and sometimes fantasize. This paper reports a large-scale experiment on memory errors and their relation to preferential traits including time preference, attitudes toward risk and ambiguity, and psychological characteristics such as anticipatory feelings. We observe systematic incidences of false memory in favor of positive events and positive amnesia in forgetting past negative events. Both positive delusion and positive confabulation significantly relate to present bias, but this is not the case for positive amnesia. In an intra-person, multiple-self model, we demonstrate that positive false memory, rather than selective amnesia, serves to enhance confidence in one's future self in equilibrium, thereby accounting for our experimental findings.

Keywords: false memory, amnesia, delusion, confabulation, present bias, anticipatory utility

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D83, Z13

Suggested Citation

Chew, Soo Hong and Huang, Wei and Zhao, Xiaojian, Motivated False Memory (February 24, 2020). Journal of Political Economy, 128(10), 3913-3939, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2127795 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2127795

Soo Hong Chew

National University of Singapore ( email )

1 Arts Link, AS2 #06-02
Singapore 117570, Singapore 119077
Singapore

National University of Singapore ( email )

Mochtar Riady Building
15 Kent Ridge Drive
Singapore, 119245
Singapore

HKUST ( email )

Clear Water Bay
Kowloon, Hong Kong
China

Wei Huang

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - CUHK Business School ( email )

Cheng Yu Tung Building
12 Chak Cheung Street
Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

Xiaojian Zhao (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/xjzhao81/

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