The effect of testing on the vulnerability to misinformation in adolescents and adults

  • Lisa Wilbers Maastricht University
Keywords: False memory, Fuzzy Trace Theory, Testing effect, Misinformation, Adolescents

Abstract

False memories are a frequently recurring problem in the courtroom and therefore research on this topic in highly needed. In the present study, the effect of testing on the vulnerability to misinformation is examined in children, adolescents and adults. The main expectation was that these different age groups have different levels of susceptibility to misinformation. It was hypothesized that the testing effect influences these different levels of susceptibility to misinformation. Fuzzy Trace Theory states that witnesses extract their memories from two different levels of memory representation: gist and verbatim. On the first testing day, after viewing a video of an electrician stealing items from a client’s house, participants received gist (e.g. why do people wear trousers?) or verbatim (e.g. what kind of trousers did Eric wear?) questions. On day two, an eyewitness statement, manipulated with misleading information, was presented, after which participants received a final memory test on a verbatim level. It was found that children were more vulnerable to misinformation than adults, and that adolescents seem to be more similar to children than to adults concerning susceptibility to misinformation. Also, the testing effect was only present when no misinformation was presented. When information was influenced by misinformation, no testing effect was found. No effect was found for the difference between gist and verbatim testing.

References

Bjorklund, D.F. (2000). False-memory creation in children and adults: Theory, research, and

implications. London: Lawrence Erblaum Associates.

Brainerd, C.J., & Reyna, V.F. (1995). Autosuggestibility in memory development. Cognitive Psychology, 28(1), 65-101.

Brainerd, C.J., & Reyna, V.F. (2001). Fuzzy trace theory: Dual processes in memory, reasoning, and cognitive neuroscience. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 28, 41-100.

Brainerd, C.J., Payne, D.G., Wright, R., & Reyna, V.F. (2003). Phantom recall. Journal of Memory and Language, 48(3), 445-467.

Brainerd, C.J., Reyna, V.F., Ceci, S.J. (2008). Developmental reversals in false memory: A review of data and theory. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 343-382.

Brainerd, C.J. (2013). Developmental reversals in false memory: A new look at the reliability of children’s evidence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(5), 335-341.

Bouwmeester, S., & Verkoeijen, P.P.J.L. (2011). Why do some children benefit more from testing than others? Gist trace processing to explain the testing effect. Journal of

Memory and Language, 65(1), 32-41.

Ceci, S.J., & Bruck, M. (1995). Jeopardy in the courtroom: A scientific analysis of children’s testimony. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Chan, J. C. K., Thomas, A. K., & Bulevich, J. B. (2009). Recalling a witnessed event increases eyewitness suggestibility: the reversed testing effect. Psychological Science, 20(1), 66-73.

Chan, J. C. K., & Langley, M. M. (2011). Paradoxial effects of testing: retrieval enhances both accurate recall and suggestibility in eyewitnesses. Journal of Experimental

Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37(1), 248-255.

Goldsmith, M., Koriat, A., & Weinberg Eliezer, A. (2002). Strategic regulation of grain size memory reporting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 131(1), 73-95.

Gordon, L. T., & Thomas, A. K. (2014). Testing potentiates new learning in the misinformation paradigm. Memory and Cognition, 42(2), 186-197.

Howe, M., Wimmer, M.C., Gagnon, N., & Plumpton S. (2009). An associative-activation theory of children’s and adults’ memory illusions. Journal of Memory and Language,

(2), 229-251.

Kassin, S.M. (1997). The psychology of confession evidence. American Psychologist, 52(3), 221-233.

Loftus, E.F., Miller, D.G., & Burns, H.J. (1978). Semantic integration of verbal information into a visual memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 4(1), 19-31.

Loftus, E.F. (1980). Memory: Surprising New Insights Into How We Remember and Why We Forget Reading. MA: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.

Pansky, A., & Koriat, A. (2004). The basic-level convergence effect in memory distortions. Psychological Science, 15(1), 52-59.

Pansky, A. (2010). Inoculation against forgetting: Advantages of immediate vs. delayed initial testing due to superior verbatim accessibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(1), 1792-1800.

Pansky, A. & Tenenboim, E. (2011). Inoculating against eyewitness suggestibility via interpolated verbatim vs. gist testing. Memory and Cognition, 39(1), 155-170.

Payne, D.G., Elie, C.J., Blackwell, J.M., & Neuschatz, J.S. (1996). Memory illusions: recalling, recognizing, and recollecting events that never occurred. Journal of Memory

and Language, 35(2), 261-285.

Reyna, V.F., & Kiernan, B. (1994). Development of gist versus verbatim memory in sentence recognition: Effects of lexical familiarity, semantic content, encoding instructions, and retention interval. Developmental Psychology, 30(2), 178-191.

Reyna, V.F. (1995). Interference effects in memory and reasoning: A fuzzy trace theory analysis. In F.N. Dempster & C.J. Brainerd (Eds.), Interference and inhibition in

cognition (29-59). San Diego: Academic Press.

Reyna, V.F., & Brainerd, C.J. (1998). Fuzzy trace theory and false memories: New Frontiers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 71(2), 194-209.

Reyna, V.F., & Farley, F. (2006). Risk and rationality in adolescent decision making: Implications for theory, practice, and public policy. Psychological Science in Public Interest, 7(1), 1-44.

Rivers, S.E., Reyna, V.F., & Mills, B. (2008). Risk taking under the influence: A fuzzy-trace theory of emotion in adolescence. Developmental Review, 28(1), 107-144.

Roediger, H.L., Jacoby, J.D., & McDermott, K.B. (1996). Misinformation effects in recall: Creating false memories through repeated retrieval. Journal of Memory and Language, 35(2), 300-318.

Roediger, H.L, Karpicke, J.D. (2006a). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17(3), 249-255.

Roediger, H.L., Karpicke, J.D. (2006b). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(3), 181-210.

Sutherland, R. & Hayne, H. (2001). Age-related changes in the misinformation effect. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 79(4), 388-404.

Takarangi, M.K.T., Parker, S., & Garry, M. (2006). Modernising the misinformation effect: the development of a new stimulus set. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20(5), 583-590.

Thomas, A. K., Bulevich, J. B., & Chan, J. C. K. (2010). Testing promotes eyewitness accuracy with a warning: Implications for retrieval enhanced suggestibility. Journal of Memory and Language, 63, 149-157.

Warren, A. R., & Lane, P. (1995). Effects of timing and type of questioning on eyewitness accuracy and suggestibility. In Zaragoza, M.S., Graham, J. R., Hall, G. C. N., Hirschman, R., Ben-Porath, Y. S. (1995). Memory and testimony in the child witness. Applied psychology: Individual, social, and community issues, 1, 44-60.

Published
2016-02-11
Section
Articles