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Individual Differences and the Creation of False Childhood Memories

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We investigated if college students will create false childhood memories, the role of self-knowledge in memory creation, and if there are reliable individual differences related to memory creation. Based on information obtained from parents, we asked college students about several true childhood experiences. We also asked each student about one false event and presented the false event as if it was based on parent information. We asked the students to describe all events in two interviews separated by one day. When participants could not recall an event (whether true or false), we encouraged them to think about related self-knowledge and to try to imagine the event. In an unrelated experimental session, the students were administered four cognitive/personality scales: the Creative Imagination Scale (CIS), the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS), the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES), and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (SDS). We found that approximately 25% of the students created false childhood memories. Participants who made connections to related self-knowledge in the first interview were more likely to create false memories. We also found that the CIS and the DES were positively related to memory creation. Factors that decrease one's ability to engage in reality monitoring are related to the acceptance of false events and the creation of false memories.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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