Intending is Believing: The Impact of Prospective Memory on False Memory of Task Performance
Silverstein, Michael J.
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In the current study, we explore whether forming an intention to carry out a delayed action (i.e., prospective memory) makes one more susceptible to experiencing false memory of action performance. Past research (e.g., Cohen, 2013; Gollwitzer & Sheeran, 2006) has shown that forming a prospective memory is akin to forming an if-then statement (e.g., if I see my friend, then I must remember to give him a message). We hypothesized that forming these future-oriented intentions can make one more susceptible to falsely believing that the intention was actually carried out. To our knowledge, no researchers have specifically examined this research question. In our study, we had 40 participants play a charades-like game called “Taboo,” in which one person must prompt the other to guess a target-word. Participants learned a set of word pairs, and then were told that some of the word pairs would be specific cues that they must use for certain target-words. Twenty-four hours later, participants completed a follow-up questionnaire in which they were informed that they said the cue words for words that never actually appeared during the Taboo game. We evaluated their memory clarity of remembering to say these cue words. Our results supported our hypothesis that formation of a future intention makes one more susceptible to false memory.
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