Can you trust what you hear? Concurrent misinformation affects recall memory and judgments of guilt.

Greg J Neil, Philip Higham, Simon Fox

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    In most misinformation studies, participants are exposed to a to-be-remembered event, and then subsequently given misinformation in textual form. This misinformation impacts on people’s ability to accurately report the initial event. In this paper, we present two experiments that explored a different approach to presenting misinformation. In the context of a murder suspect, the to-be-remembered event was audio of a police interview, whilst the misinformation was co-presented as subtitles with some words being different to, and more incriminating than, those that were actually said. We refer to this as concurrent misinformation. In Experiment 1, concurrent misinformation was inappropriately reported in a cued-recall test, and inflated participants’ ratings of how incriminating the audio was. Experiment 2 attempted to employ warnings to mitigate the influence of concurrent misinformation. Warnings after the to-be-remembered event had no effect, whilst warnings before the event reduced the effect of concurrent misinformation for a sub-set of participants. Participants that noticed the discrepancy between the audio and the sub-titles were also less likely to judge the audio as incriminating. These results were considered in relation to existing theories underlying the misinformation effect, as well as the implication for the use of audio and text in applied contexts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1741-1759
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021


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