Priming analogical reasoning with false memories

Mark L. Howe*, Sarah R. Garner, Emma Threadgold, Linden J. Ball

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)


Like true memories, false memories are capable of priming answers to insight-based problems. Recent research has attempted to extend this paradigm to more advanced problem-solving tasks, including those involving verbal analogical reasoning. However, these experiments are constrained inasmuch as problem solutions could be generated via spreading activation mechanisms (much like false memories themselves) rather than using complex reasoning processes. In three experiments we examined false memory priming of complex analogical reasoning tasks in the absence of simple semantic associations. In Experiment 1, we demonstrated the robustness of false memory priming in analogical reasoning when backward associative strength among the problem terms was eliminated. In Experiments 2a and 2b, we extended these findings by demonstrating priming on newly created homonym analogies that can only be solved by inhibiting semantic associations within the analogy. Overall, the findings of the present experiments provide evidence that the efficacy of false memory priming extends to complex analogical reasoning problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-895
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number6
Early online date18 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Priming
  • Analogical reasoning
  • False memory
  • DRM paradigm
  • Homonyms
  • Spreading activation

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