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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 6/2021

03-09-2020 | Original Article

Does emotional or repeated misinformation increase memory distortion for a trauma analogue event?

Auteurs: Sasha Nahleen, Deryn Strange, Melanie K. T. Takarangi

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 6/2021

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Abstract

In general, memory of highly negative and even traumatic events can distort. However, the effect of misinformation exposure on such memories requires further investigation given the inconsistent past findings. With two experiments, we investigated: (1) whether misinformation distorts memory for highly negative analogue events, (2) whether memory distortion is increased for more emotional and potentially traumatic details compared to unemotional details, and (3) whether repeated misinformation exposure further increases memory distortion for highly negative events compared to single exposure, a possibility that has not been investigated to our knowledge. In both experiments, participants viewed a trauma analogue film with some scenes removed. Twenty-four hours later, they were given three “eyewitness” reports describing the film’s events. To manipulate misinformation repetition, either zero, one, or all three of the reports described removed scenes. To determine whether memory distortion is increased for emotional details, half of the removed scenes were more traumatic than the other half. Participants exposed to misinformation falsely remembered more removed scenes compared to participants who were not exposed to misinformation. Further, memory distortion was increased for emotional (vs. unemotional) aspects of the film. Repeated misinformation exposure, however, did not lead to significantly higher error rates compared to single exposure. The lack of perceptual overlap between our written misinformation and film test items may have limited false memories even with repeated misinformation. Alternatively, the repeated vs. single misinformation effect may exist but be very small, as suggested by our raw means and effect sizes.
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Voetnoten
1
We ran a similar intervening experiment where we found no misinformation effects after potentially increasing discrepancy detection during the report-reading with a more robust attention check. Please see the Supplementary Materials file for data for that experiment.
 
2
All analyses were pre-registered except for the Chi square analyses examining the accuracy ratings of reports in Experiment 2.
 
3
We also ran a G*Power analysis to power for our possible 3 (Clip Type: New, Old, Missing) × 3 (Condition: No Misinformation, Single Misinformation, Repeated Misinformation) interaction. We found with a medium effect size (np2 = 0.06) and a small correlation between repeated measures (based on similar previous research r = 0.19), we needed a total sample of 54. We powered for the interaction in Experiment 2 with Experiment 1 data. We found we needed a total of 48 participants (np2 = 0.076, r = 0.064).
 
4
Four items were removed from the IES at Session 1 because they did not make sense before a delay period (e.g., “I had dreams about it” and “I tried not to talk about it”).
 
5
All pairwise comparisons were Bonferroni adjusted. No other findings were adjusted.
 
6
It is important to note that reporting positive affect does not mean that the film did not invoke a negative state. Positive Affect (PA) and Negative Affect (NA) can be experienced simultaneously (Tellegen, Watson, & Clark, 1999; Watson et al., 1988). Further, research has provided evidence for differentiating three facets of PA: joy, interest, and activation (Egloff, Schmukle, Burns, Kohlmann, & Hock, 2003). In our experiments, participants felt less joy and interest after the film but more activated, specifically more alert. Increased activation may reflect increased hypervigilance, a common occurrence after experiencing a traumatic event (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Last, PA and NA subscales have a positive skew, so Crawford and Henry (2004) constructed a table for conversion of PA and NA raw scores to percentiles. Participants in our experiments were on the lower end of the PA subscale and the higher end of the NA subscale after the film compared to before. Therefore, overall, our PANAS scores suggest that participants found the film highly negative.
 
7
We acknowledge that selecting “It appeared in the film I watched yesterday and in the eyewitness report(s)” may qualify as a false memory. However, we did not find differences in conditions when this response was included or analyzed on its own and do not report results here.
 
Literatuur
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Metagegevens
Titel
Does emotional or repeated misinformation increase memory distortion for a trauma analogue event?
Auteurs
Sasha Nahleen
Deryn Strange
Melanie K. T. Takarangi
Publicatiedatum
03-09-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 6/2021
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01409-x