Experimentally evoking nonbelieved memories for childhood events

H. Otgaar*, A. Scoboria, T. Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We report on the 1st experimental elicitation of nonbelieved memories for childhood events in adults (Study 1) and children (Study 2) using a modified false memory implantation paradigm. Participants received true (trip to a theme park) and false (hot air balloon ride) narratives and recalled these events during 2 interviews. After debriefing, 13% of adults and 15% of children reported nonbelieved memories. While phenomenal ratings were higher for true than for nonbelieved memories immediately after the debriefing, after a month nonbelieved memories behaved as true memories. Also following debriefing, 23% of adults and 15% of children retracted their false memory claims. Prior to debriefing, participants with nonbelieved memories were most likely to indicate remembering the event, whereas participants with false memories who retracted their claim were most likely to endorse believing but not remembering the event. This research suggests that debriefings in previous false memory studies can lead to the development of nonbelieved memories. Additional findings regarding the correspondence between subjective belief, subjective memory, and objective memory judgments prior to and following debriefing are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-730
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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