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False Memories of Words Jessica M. Santos & Dr. Hildy Schilling(sponsor) Behavioral Sciences Department Abstract This experiment was designed to investigate false memories which occur when one reports having seen words that he/she did not see. Participants viewed either related words (e.g., “band,” “rhythm”) or unrelated words (e.g., "anger,” snail). Next, participants completed either a recall task in which they wrote down the words that they recalled or a recognition task in which they were given a list of words and asked to circle the words that they remember seeing. As expected, it was found that participants who had seen the related words had more false memories than the groups with the unrelated words. Also as expected, participants remembered more words when they were given the recognition task than when they were given the recall task. There was no interaction between the type of word list and type of test . Introduction A false memory occurs when one reports remembering an event that did not occur. For example, Deese, Roediger, and McDermott (2001), presented word lists to their participants who then remembered words that were similar to words on the list. Hearing or seeing the words: “tired”, “rest”, and “bed” may activate the concept of sleep so that it is remembered as though it had been on the list, even though it was not shown. Researchers have found that performance on a recognition test is superior to that on a recall test (Balota & Neely ,1980; Petrusic & Dillon, 1972). During a recognition test, a participant sees a word or answer and picks it out from others, because it looks familiar. During a recall task, the participant has to generate the information from long term memory and write it down. Many students prefer taking a multiple- choice test (which is a recognition task) to taking an essay test (which is a recall task) because it is easier to select information than to generate it from long term memory. In the present experiment, the participants viewed a list of words that were either related to each other or unrelated to each other, and then they took either a recognition test or a recall test. It was expected that more words would be remembered by those who took the recognition test than those who took the recall test. Also, it was expected that participants who saw the related words would have more false memories than those who saw the unrelated words. Procedure Participants viewed a Power Point slide show of 15 related or unrelated words. Participants were asked to work on solving mazes for 3 minutes. For the recognition test, participants were given a list of 30 words, and they circled the words that were shown on the slide show. For the recall test, participants wrote down the words that they printed recalled from the slide show. by www.postersession.com Study Design Results Two 2 x 2 between-subjects ANOVAs with an alpha level set to .05 were used for the analyses. Mean number of items recalled from the related lists was 5.6 items which was not statistically greater than items from the unrelated list which was 4.3 items, F(1,36) = 4.165, p = .049. For number of items remembered, the mean for recognized items which was 9.6 items was statistically greater than the mean number of recalled items which was 4.95 items, F(1,36) = 68.102 , p =.000. For number of items remembered there was no interaction between stimulus type and test type, F(1,36) = .071, p = .792. Mean number of false memories from the related list was 1.7 items which was statistically greater than the mean number for unrelated items which was .3 items, F(1,36) = 6.617 , p = .014. Mean number of false memories for the recognition test was 1 .7 which was statistically greater than the mean number of false memories for the recall test which was .75, F(1,36) = 11.456, p = .002. For false memories, there was no interaction between stimulus type and test type, F(1,36) = .898, p = .350. This study used a 2 x 2 between-subjects design. The independent variables were word list (related or unrelated) and test type (recognition or recall). The dependent variables were the number of correctly remembered words and the number of false memories. List 1 List 2 List 3 List 4 Note Anger Bed Girl Sound High Rest Crawl Piano Black Awake Rough Sing King Tired Touch Music Water Sleep Jail Radio Bread Dream Sleep Harmony Boy Drained Honey Band Chair Wake Snail Song Thread Night Fast Melody Man Snooze Soft Rap Low Nightmare Door Horn Cold Blanket Dream CDs Nurse Dark Steal Concert Mountain Doze Spider Measure Queen Silence Woman Recognition Options Instrument Doctor Slumber Ready Composition Apple Cradle Candy Symphony Music Snore Sweet Echo Mad Exhausted Hard Jazz Foot Nap Daughter Tempo Shoe Calm Haystack Orchestra Needle Peace Thief Beat Sing Weary Fishing Art Fruit Yawn Light Dance White Pillow Bed Rhythm River Drowsy Window Saxophone Table Relax Web Drums Hot Quiet Curtain Pop Hill Futon Poison Score Butter Alarm Smooth False Memories Related Recognition 2.5 (1.78) Recall 1.2 (1.23) Mean 1.85 (1.63) Unrelated 0.9 (.738) 0.3 (.483) 0.6 (.681) Discussion Mean 1.7(1.56) .75 (1.02) Number Correct Related Recognition 10.1 (1.85) Recall 5.6 (1.43) Mean 7.85(2.81) Unrelated 9.1 (1.73) 4.3 (2.06) 6.7 (3.07) Mean 9.6 (1.82) 4.95 (1.85) Results indicate effects of stimulus type and test type. Stimulus type (related or unrelated) affected the number of false memories during the testing, while test type affected the number of words remembered. This supports the findings by previous researchers. Some participants were overwhelmed by the mazes that were given, but it was not used in the scoring it was just to keep them busy for three minutes to stop any recency effects. One participant recalled the word “puppy” after seeing all words related to music. .. Mean Number of False Memories Mean Number of Items Remembered References Balota, D.,& Neely, J. (1980). Test-expectancy and word frequency effects in recall and recognition. Journal of experimental Psychology. Human Learning and Memory, 6(5), 576-587 doi:10.1037/0278-73220.127.116.116. Gallo, D.,McDermott, K., Percer, J., & Roediger, H. (2001). Modality effects in false recall and False recognition. Journal of experimental psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 27(2), 339-353. Doi:10.1037/0278-7393.27.339. Petrusic, W., & Dillon, R. (1972). Proactive interference in short-term recognition and recall memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 95(2), 412-418. Doi:10.1037/h0033663.