Emotionality and gender of a third party reporter on memory distortion
Kerrigan, Katrina Elise
Rodriguez, Ana Patricia
Seltzer, Madison Erin
May 9, 2017
Human memory is largely considered a reliable source for retrieving information. At the same time, memory researchers continue to demonstrate the fallibility of memory. The misinformation effect is one such weakness in which post-event misinformation distorts an original memory for an event. There is a gap in the literature regarding how certain aspects of the post-event misinformation may modulate the misinformation effect. In the present study, we investigated how the gender and emotionality of a misinformant affects the misinformation effect. Participants watched a short video of a crime, followed by one of four testimonies in which a witness recounted both consistent and misleading information. The testimony was manipulated across both gender (male/female) and emotionality (emotional/neutral). Participants were tested on their memory for the original event with questions about facts that were reinforced, distorted, or not mentioned by the testimony. The misinformation effect was achieved in the present study. Although no main effects of testimony gender nor emotionality were found, a non-significant interaction trend was observed between testimony gender and emotionality. Participants’ memory accuracy for distorted information was lower for emotional female testimonies compared to neutral female testimonies but higher for emotional male testimonies compared to neutral male testimonies. Analyses revealed a main effect of participant gender in which male participants were more susceptible to the misinformation effect than female participants. Research on the present topic will shed light on the ways in which we remember information acquired through third-party sources.
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