Stress-induced cortisol responses, sex differences, and false recollections in a DRM paradigm

T. Smeets*, M. Jelicic, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Web of Science)


The current studies investigated whether acute stress potentiates false recollections (so-called "false memories") in a Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm, and whether sex differences modulate these effects. Participants were assigned to either a stress (trier social stress test) or a control group. Subsequently, they were subjected to DRM word lists and probed for recall and recognition. Results showed no differences between the stress and control group on measures of false recollections (Study 1; N = 60). Even though correct recall was impaired by acute stress, there were no differences between high or low cortisol responders and controls on false recall or recognitions rates (Study 2; N = 92). These results suggest that cortisol responses do not directly potentiate false recollections. Neither in Study 1 nor in Study 2 did we find any evidence that the effects of cortisol on false recollections are different in men and women, although there was an indication that independent of stress men produced more commission errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-172
JournalBiological Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

Cite this