The Memory Effects of Simulating Crime-related Amnesia

A Review of Experimental Studies


  • Lianne Wolsink Student


Crime-related amnesia refers to the amnesia for an offense that is sometimes reported by offenders of (violent) crimes. Although some of the amnesia claims may be genuine, others are likely to be simulated. Simulating amnesia can have advantages for the offender, but not all offenders will continue claiming amnesia during the police investigation. This raises the question whether and how simulating crime-related amnesia affects subsequent genuine memory recall of the crime. Experimental studies generally find a memory-undermining effect of simulating amnesia. The exact memory effects depend on the simulation strategy used. According to the Memory and Deception (MAD) framework, different forms of deception result in distinct memory errors. False denial is likely to lead to omission errors, whereas fabrication of an alternative story is more likely to lead to commission errors. The possible explanations for these memory effects, important considerations, and legal implications will be discussed.