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Source misattributions and false recognition errors: Examining the role of perceptual resemblance and imagery generation processes

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In three experiments, we examine the extent to which participants’ memory errors are affected by the perceptual features of an encoding series and imagery generation processes. Perceptual features were examined by manipulating the features associated with individual items as well as the relationships among items. An encoding instruction manipulation was included to examine the effects of explicit requests to generate images. In all three experiments, participants falsely claimed to have seen pictures of items presented as words, committing picture misattribution errors. These misattribution errors were exaggerated when the perceptual resemblance between pictures and images was relatively high (Experiment 1) and when explicit requests to generate images were omitted from encoding instructions (Experiments 1 and 2). When perceptual cues made the thematic relationships among items salient, the level and pattern of misattribution errors were also affected (Experiments 2 and 3). Results address alternative views about the nature of internal representations resulting in misattribution errors and refute the idea that these errors reflect only participants’ general impressions or beliefs about what was seen.
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Keywords: Imagery; Perceptual features; Picture misattribution errors; Source monitoring

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA 2: Department of Psychology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, USA

Publication date: July 4, 2015

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