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

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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.

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  • Journal Article
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1029
Number of pages11
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018