False Memories of Fabricated Political Events

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 49, 2013

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-87

8 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2013  

Steven J. Frenda

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior

Eric D. Knowles

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior

William Saletan

The Slate Group

Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior; University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: January 16, 2013

Abstract

In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions.

Keywords: False memory, Source monitoring, Political preference

Suggested Citation

Frenda, Steven J. and Knowles, Eric D. and Saletan, William and Loftus, Elizabeth F., False Memories of Fabricated Political Events (January 16, 2013). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 49, 2013; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-87. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2201941

Steven J. Frenda (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

Eric D. Knowles

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

William Saletan

The Slate Group ( email )

1350 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

University of California, Irvine School of Law

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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