Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Confusing What You Heard with What You Did: False Action-Memories from Auditory Cues

Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Confusing What You Heard with What You Did: False Action-Memories from Auditory Cues

Article excerpt

Published online: 30 April 2015

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract Creating a mental image of one's own performance, observing someone else performing an action, and viewing a photograph of a completed action all can lead to the illusory recollection that one has performed this action. While there are fundamental differences in the nature of these three processes, they are aligned by the fact that they involve primarily or solely the visual modality. According to the sourcemonitoring framework, the corresponding visual memory traces later can be mistakenly attributed to self-performance. However, when people perform actions, they do not only engage vision, but also other modalities, such as auditory and tactile systems. The present study focused on the role of audition in the creation of false beliefs about performing an action and explored whether auditory cues alone-in the absence of any visual cues-can induce false beliefs and memories for actions. After performing a series of simple actions, participants listened to the sound of someone performing various actions, watched someone perform the actions, or simultaneously both heard and saw someone perform them. Some of these actions had been performed earlier by the participants and others were new. A later source-memory test revealed that all three types of processing (hearing, seeing, or hearing plus seeing someone perform the actions) led to comparable increases in false claims of having performed actions oneself. The potential mechanisms underlying false action-memories from sound and vision are discussed.

Keywords Source monitoring . Falsememory . Enactment . Mental imagery . Sound

It is not unusual for people to mistakenly remember having done something-shut the window, put their keys in their bag-that they have not in fact done. People can be induced to remember falsely performing simple, everyday actions by imagining seeing themselves or by actually seeing someone else perform those actions (Goff& Roediger, 1998; Lindner, Echterhoff, Davidson, & Brand, 2010). Such work has not examined the impact of nonvisual processes, such as hearing the sounds of actions, on these false action-memories, however. The present study explored whether sound alone in the absence of direct visual cues could trigger false actionmemories and how false memories induced by sound compare with those induced by vision.

In the typical paradigm to investigate false action-memories, participants perform various simple actions (e.g., break the toothpick; roll the dice) in Phase 1. In Phase 2, they are presented with some of the actions that they performed earlier (e.g., break the toothpick) and some new (nonperformed) actions (e.g., pour water in the glass). The kind of processing (e.g., imagination, observation) in this second phase has been varied between and within studies. Goffand Roediger (1998) showed that imagining performing simple actions in Phase 2 inflated the number of false claims to have performed the actions oneself on a later, surprise source-memory test, the imagination-inflation effect (see also Garry, Manning, Loftus, & Sherman, 1996). Thus, people might falsely claim that they actually poured water into the glass in Phase 1 when in fact they only imagined performing this action in Phase 2 (Lampinen, Odegard, & Bullington, 2003; Thomas, Bulevich, & Loftus, 2003).

Additional work has shown that watching other people perform actions via short video-clips in Phase 2 can have similar effects (Lindner et al., 2010; Nash, Wade, & Brewer, 2009). Thus, watching someone else pour water into a glass can lead people to claim mistakenly that they themselves performed this action, dubbed the observation-inflation effect (Lindner, Schain, Kopietz, & Echterhoff, 2012; Schain, Lindner, Beck, & Echterhoff, 2012). Exposure to photographs of actions involving objects in their completed states in Phase 2 (e.g., seeing a photo of an empty water bottle with a full glass of water beside it) also induces false claims of having performed those actions, the photo-inflation effect (Henkel, 2011). …

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