Research Publication Title

Lie to me: the effects of lying on memory and confidence

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Eric Rindal

Keywords

lying, memory, false memory, confidence

Abstract

Despite relatively few studies investigating the effects of lying on memory, there is evidence that lying can have negative effects on memory (e.g. Pickel, 2004). The present study sought to further investigate the effects of lying on memory, by exploring the effect lying had on memory one and four weeks later, as well as the confidence with which these memories are held. Participants viewed a video of a robbery and were asked 16 short answer questions about the event. On these questions, participants were asked to truthfully answer eight questions about details they had actually witnessed and were also asked to lie about having witnessed details when answering the remaining eight questions that asked about events or details that were not seen in the video. One week later, participants returned and were asked to truthfully answer and rate their confidence in their responses on a 16-item yes/no recognition test assessing their memory for the originally witnessed event. Of these items, half were about details that had been witnessed (true questions) and half were about details that had not been seen (lie questions). For the items in each category, half were based on the responses the participant had provided on day one, and half were from a yoked partner (control). Participants returned three weeks later and their memory for the eyewitness event was assessed with a 32-item yes/no recognition test as well as free recall. The recognition test included the same 16 items from the test and 16 additional questions (eight lie and eight true). Planned dependent t-tests showed that participants falsely assented to having seen details they had previously fabricated at both 1 and 4 weeks significantly more often than in the control condition. Additionally, their confidence in those responses was consistent with accuracy but only under some circumstances.

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Lie to me: the effects of lying on memory and confidence

Despite relatively few studies investigating the effects of lying on memory, there is evidence that lying can have negative effects on memory (e.g. Pickel, 2004). The present study sought to further investigate the effects of lying on memory, by exploring the effect lying had on memory one and four weeks later, as well as the confidence with which these memories are held. Participants viewed a video of a robbery and were asked 16 short answer questions about the event. On these questions, participants were asked to truthfully answer eight questions about details they had actually witnessed and were also asked to lie about having witnessed details when answering the remaining eight questions that asked about events or details that were not seen in the video. One week later, participants returned and were asked to truthfully answer and rate their confidence in their responses on a 16-item yes/no recognition test assessing their memory for the originally witnessed event. Of these items, half were about details that had been witnessed (true questions) and half were about details that had not been seen (lie questions). For the items in each category, half were based on the responses the participant had provided on day one, and half were from a yoked partner (control). Participants returned three weeks later and their memory for the eyewitness event was assessed with a 32-item yes/no recognition test as well as free recall. The recognition test included the same 16 items from the test and 16 additional questions (eight lie and eight true). Planned dependent t-tests showed that participants falsely assented to having seen details they had previously fabricated at both 1 and 4 weeks significantly more often than in the control condition. Additionally, their confidence in those responses was consistent with accuracy but only under some circumstances.