Crashing Memory 2.0: False Memories in Adults for an Upsetting Childhood Event


Previous crashing memory studies have shown that adults can be led to believe they witnessed video footage of news events for which no video footage actually exists. The current study is the first to investigate adults' tendency to report memories of viewing footage that took place when they were children: the plane crash in Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001. We found that in a computer questionnaire, 33% indicated a false memory with at least one false detail. In a more detailed face-to-face interview, only 13% of the group described a detailed false memory. Familiarity with the news story, fantasy proneness, alcohol use, and frequency of negative emotions after 9/11 were all associated with a Persistent False Memory. Participants who had received prior suggestion were more likely to later report false memories in the subsequent interview. We discuss our novel results and the importance of the paradigm.

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