Inducing False Memories

  It's probably a good idea to read about the study before examining my results. (This link will take you off this site, to the Scientific American site.)

.I read the first 3 lists to my Math 258 students. Each list concerned a "target" word:

  • sleep
  • doctor
  • needle

However, at no time did I mention the target words. My subjects were given 4 minutes to recall as many of the words as they could from the 3 lists.. Here's the breakdown.

sleep doctor needle Count %
YES YES YES 11 17.2
YES YES NO 1 1.6
YES NO YES 11 17.2
YES NO NO 6 9.4
NO YES YES 8 12.5
NO YES NO 2 3.1
NO NO YES 14 21.9
NO NO NO 11 17.2

That is, fully 11 of th 64 people (that's 17.2%) recorded all 3 of the target words. More impressively, only about 17.2% of my subjects did not record a single target word. That's 82.8% who were induced into a false memory. By target word it looks like this.

Target Word # Recording % Recording
sleep 29 45.3
doctor 22 34.4
needle 44 68.8

I read the "doctor" list between the "sleep" and "needle" lists. Perhaps that accounts for the greater forgetting for this list?


There's more to come in this study. . .