Unlikely Memories and Two Amnesias
Their mean age was Participants were recruited from Maastricht University and other universities in the Netherlands via posters and advertisements on social media. After the mock crime was committed, participants were informed that they would be interviewed about the event. The study was divided into two sessions. In Session 1, participants committed the mock crime after which the first memory test was administered.
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Participants received a note with a set of instructions. Participants were told that it would be in their best interest to have the answers to the exam beforehand. To access the answers, they had to gain access to the statistics professor's email using a password. They were instructed to take a pen to write down the password and go to the professor's lab where the password could be found.
The password was then used on a computer in an adjacent room to gain access to the professor's email account. Answers to the exam were to be found in the professor's email and participants had to forward the email containing the answers to a certain email address before logging out and returning to the main experimental room.
Directly after the mock crime, a first memory test was administered as an interview and it consisted of nine questions e. This memory test was formatted as a structured interview and was used to assess participants' memories for the mock crime. Two of the nine questions contained false detail information about events that did not occur and were unrelated to what the participants had to do in the mock crime e. A priori to their participation, participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, and as a result, participants received instructions that differed between the three conditions.
Truth tellers were instructed to tell the truth in response to all of the questions, the false deniers had to deny the facts for all the questions e. Similar to Van Oorsouw and Giesbrecht , for this task, participants in the simulated amnesia condition were told that they could avoid punishment by simulating memory loss for the mock crime see Appendix A and that simply saying they could not remember anything was not sufficient.
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Therefore, they had to make a concerted effort to convince the interviewer of their memory loss. See Appendix B for the specific instructions. The second memory test contained all nine items seven true detail and two false detail questions from the first memory test, along with two false detail filler items. Each item had four questions. The first question probed for whether certain information was discussed with the interviewer see above.
The second question was related to the participants' actual memory for the event see above. They examined participants' beliefs e. Correct memories for the mock event were identified by consistency in responses to the nine original questions from the first interview.
Our first analyses focused on whether we could detect a DIF effect. Other comparisons i. These effects show the simulated amnesia group evinced a forgetting effect that has been found in previous studies on the effects of false denials on memory i. A Kruskal—Wallis nonparametric test analysis was used because of violations of homogeneity. An alternative way to examine whether false denials or simulating amnesia might have affected memory for the mock crime is to look at the recollection ratings as a function of the conditions.
We also explored participants' belief ratings and believed memories concerning presented and nonpresented items in the mock crime. The result indicates that the simulated amnesia group believed less in the occurrence of the events than the other groups.
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The assumption of homogeneity of variance was not violated for the mean total belief ratings for false details and filler details. Questions that received a high rating for both recollection and belief i. The principal goal of the current experiment was to investigate the memory effects of false denials and simulated amnesia for a mock crime.
Research has also revealed that the remembrance of discussion about details during an interview can be impaired, when those details were initially falsely denied i. In fact, this issue has recently been addressed in a study where participants were immersed in a virtual reality VR environment and saw a realistic scene of a plane crash site. At odds with previous findings e.
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What could be the reason for these findings? Previous research on DIF differed in many respects from the current experiment. If performing an action as opposed to being a passive observer and physical immersion possibly mitigated the memory effects of false denial, this may mean that there are contextual differences in the way that different cognitive strategies.
That is, false denial may be less effective in impairing memory for experiences in which people are active participants e. So, our experiment suggests that there may be a boundary to the DIF effect in that the effect disappears when people are actively involved in an event and then have to falsely deny having experienced certain details. Of course, future studies should try to replicate this by experimentally examining the memory performance of both mock offenders and victims who falsely deny information for the same mock crime. Simulating amnesia is assumed to use more cognitive resources than denial.
It was emphasized to participants in the simulated amnesia group that in addition to saying that they could not remember, they should also consciously exert effort to feign memory loss see Appendix B , so this might explain why we only found observed a forgetting effect in simulators. Another possible explanation for the failure to replicate DIF in the false denial condition could simply be due to the type of stimuli used in the study. Pictures were used in some still studies i. Participants in this study were instructed to write, move between rooms, and operate a laptop, which arguably required them to be more cognitively stimulated.
Therefore, engaging in a more physically and perceptually demanding task such as a mock crime may have increased the focus of participants, making it more difficult to forget details. We did find a forgetting effect in the simulating amnesia condition. Because simulating amnesia requires denial to some extent, an adverse effect on memory was anticipated and ultimately supported by the findings. Although our procedure is a far stretch from how offenders commit crimes in real life, the fact that participants adopted a stance that is similar to real offenders, our findings can in the least act as an inspiratory point for thoughts about how real offenders may be affected.
Analyses showed that the simulated amnesia condition had comparatively lowers belief ratings than the false denial and truth telling conditions. Because fabricating events increases belief that those events occurred Polage, , perhaps it is possible that simulating amnesia decreases the belief that the event happened. This parallels research showing that people reduce the belief in the occurrence of experienced events when their memories are challenged.
For example, Mazzoni, Clark, and Nash Mazzoni, found that misleading participants by telling them that they did not perform actions that they had in fact performed reduced subsequent belief ratings for those actions also see for related work Otgaar, Howe, et al. However, this research shows that external pressure can affect the belief that people have in experiences. In the current experiment, participants challenged their own memories by, for example, simulating amnesia. Future research might examine whether internal or external challenges on one's experiences are equally likely to affect the belief in occurrence of those experiences.
Because in real life, most offenders are not immediately interviewed after a crime is committed, it is also worth exploring how DIF presents after longer time intervals. The results supported the idea that forgetting can in fact be induced in perpetrators of mock crimes. We also found that simulated amnesia resulted in lower belief ratings in comparison with when false denial or no strategy was used.
It has been reported that a substantial portion of defendants claims memory loss for the offence they are accused of Cima et al. These findings bring both therapeutic and legal implications to mind. As for a legal impact, if a defendant's memory or belief for an event is altered, they may not be able to give an accurate statement. The factors e. However, this study was designed in a manner that closely reflects some aspects of the experience of a real crime e.
It is possible that our observed memory effect was the result of demand characteristics, a matter that has been acknowledged in previous studies that examined the effects of denial on memory. However, in a study that used a methodology that differed only slightly from the current experiment i. Although demand characteristics cannot be completely ruled out, it is unlikely to have been an influential factor in the current experiment.
Unlikely Memories and Two Amnesias
In conclusion, our findings suggest a boundary effect to DIF and a genuine adverse memory effect to simulated amnesia from the perspective of a person who is acting in the role of an offender. We found that forgetting about the occurrence of discussions about critical aspects of their experiences can occur in offenders who simulate amnesia for a mock crime. A forgetting effect that in essence is akin to that of DIF was found in participants that were instructed to simulate amnesia.
Specifically, simulators were less likely to remember that they talked with the experimenter about certain details of the mock crime than the other participants. Additionally, in contrast to the other groups, simulators had lower recollection and belief ratings for the occurrence of true events from the mock crime.
The findings herein illustrate that even when someone commits a crime, they can forget that they discussed details of the event if they simulate amnesia with the motivation to diminish responsibility and reduce the believability of their own memories. Please note: The publisher is not responsible for the content or functionality of any supporting information supplied by the authors. Any queries other than missing content should be directed to the corresponding author for the article.
The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Applied Cognitive Psychology Early View. Tameka Romeo Corresponding Author E-mail address: tameka.
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