'That didn't happen': Memorial Consequences of False Denials for Neutral and Negative Material

  • Sanne Tessa Louise Houben Maastricht University
Keywords: False Denials, Omission, Memory, Valence, Nonbelieved Memories


The current experiment assessed the memorial consequences of false denials (i.e., denying an event had happened) for neutral and negative material. 86 participants viewed neutral and negative pictures and their memory and belief for these pictures was tested. Specifically, participants were randomly assigned to three conditions: (1) Internal Denial, participants were instructed to falsely deny questions related to the pictures; (2) External Denial, participants received negative feedback from the experimenter; or (3) Control, participants were instructed to provide answers to questions they are completely sure about, and were told not to guess. A day later, participants had to rate their memory and belief once more. The most important finding was that internal denial resulted in participants falsely denying they had talked about a certain detail with the experimenter, when in fact they did. The current results indicate that denying an experienced event may adversely affects memory for the interview itself.