Can implicit measures detect source information in crime-related amnesia?

Ivan Mangiulli*, Tiziana Lanciano, Marko Jelicic, Kim van Oorsouw, Fabiana Battista, Antonietta Curci

*Corresponding author for this work

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Participants who are asked to simulate amnesia for a mock crime have a weaker memory for this event when they have to give up their role as a feigner, than those who are not asked to feign memory loss. According to the source monitoring framework (SMF), this memory-undermining effect of simulating amnesia for a crime would be due to misattribution of the right source of information. However, we know that the content of self-generated information (e.g., feigned version of the crime) might be preserved and recognised over time as a result of elaborative cognitive processing. In the present study, we aimed to contrast these two explanations. We showed participants a mock crime video and we instructed them to either feign amnesia (simulators) or confess the mock crime (confessors). Next, a free recall memory test was administered. After one week, participants were asked to perform a personalised source monitoring task using the autobiographical Implicit Association Test (aIAT). As predicted, we found that simulators were able to discriminate the content of their self-generated feigned story of the crime from the original version. Moreover, simulators were quicker than confessors at the aIAT task. Practical and theoretical implications of our results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1029
Number of pages11
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Journal Article

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