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The impact of own and others’ alcohol consumption on social contagion following a collaborative memory task

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When one person alters his or her recollection of an event to be consistent with another person's erroneous account of the same event, social contagion has occurred. In two studies, we examined whether alcohol consumption influences the degree to which people engage in social contagion. In Study 1, participants consumed alcohol, an alcohol placebo, or a soft drink and then completed a collaborative recall test with a confederate who consumed a soft drink. In Study 2, participants consumed a soft drink and then completed a collaborative recall test with a confederate they believed had consumed a soft drink or alcohol (but no alcohol was ever consumed). In both studies, the confederate made scripted errors during the collaborative recall test. On post-collaborative individual recall and recognition tests, participants in both studies engaged in social contagion by including the confederate's errors in their own recollection. In Study 1, the drink participants consumed had no influence on social contagion. In Study 2, participants were less likely to engage in social contagion after collaborating with a confederate who had seemingly consumed alcohol. That same confederate was viewed as less accurate, trustworthy, and credible, which likely made participants less inclined to engage in social contagion.
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Keywords: Social contagion; alcohol; eyewitness; memory conformity; misinformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia 2: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England

Publication date: July 3, 2018

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