Poor working memory predicts false memories

M.J.V. Peters*, M. Jelicic, H. Verbeek, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

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Two studies investigated whether individual differences in simple span verbal working memory and complex working memory capacity are related to memory accuracy and susceptibility to false memory development. In Study 1, undergraduate students (N = 60) were given two simple span working memory tests: forward and backward digit span. They also underwent a memory task that is known to elicit false memories of nonpresented words, the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm. Poor simple span working memory (as reflected by suboptimal backward digit span scores) was related to elevated levels of false recognition. Study 2 (N = 65) replicated this finding, in that suboptimal backward digit span performance was found to be predictive of false recognition. However, complex working memory capacity (operation span) was not related to false recognition. This pattern suggests that even in a homogenous sample of undergraduates, poor working memory is associated with the susceptibility to recollect words never presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-232
JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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