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Fact, fiction or belief? Generating, reporting and distinguishing real and fabricated memories

Justice, Lucy Victoria (2012) Fact, fiction or belief? Generating, reporting and distinguishing real and fabricated memories. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis investigated intentionally fabricated autobiographical memories (IFAMs), memories deliberately created to be false. The first aim of the thesis was to understand the processes underlying IFAM generation. Secondly, the thesis examined beliefs held by the public about autobiographical memory (AM) and about lying, in an attempt to clarify current levels of knowledge. The third aim was to understand how AMs and IFAMs of staged events were reported, and to identify characteristics that could distinguish AMs from IFAMs. In particular, the work aimed to understand if entirely fabricated everyday memories differed from partially fabricated everyday and emotional memories. Finally, this thesis examined the effect that repeatedly providing an IFAM of an experienced event had on the ability to subsequently recall the original AM. AMs and IFAMs were elicited using cue word and staged event techniques. Participants were either asked to type their memories into a computer or were interviewed using structured questioning. Data regarding beliefs about memory and lying were gathered using questionnaires. Results revealed that IFAMs are frequently generated by firstly recalling a truthful AM which is then ‘edited’ to create a novel mental representation. The generation of an IFAM was therefore found to be reliably more cognitively effortful than the generation of an AM. Results also identified a number of erroneous and inconsistent beliefs about the nature of memory and of lying. Additionally, results showed that a number of characteristics could reliably identify AMs and entire IFAMs of everyday events. However, the number of characteristics was reliably reduced when AMs and partial IFAMs of everyday events were compared. Most strikingly, no characteristics were found that could reliably distinguish AMs from IFAMs of emotional events. Finally, results revealed that repeatedly providing an IFAM of a staged event reliably impaired the individual’s ability to then recall the original AM.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-262-4
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Psychological Sciences (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.566330
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2013 10:47
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3350

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