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Is the public understanding of memory prone to widespread "myths"?

Brewin, CR; Li, H; Ntarantana, V; Unsworth, C; McNeilis, J; (2019) Is the public understanding of memory prone to widespread "myths"? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 10.1037/xge0000610. (In press).

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Abstract

It is frequently asserted that the understanding of memory among the general public and among legal and psychological professionals is deficient, the most prominent examples being that many people appear to liken memory to a video camera, overestimate the association between accuracy and confidence, and believe in repression. The existing evidence is limited to single questionnaire items, however, and to date there has been little investigation of context effects or of the public's underlying assumptions about memory. In the first study we found that people endorse the video camera metaphor as well as several other prominent memory metaphors, but that they were more likely to agree that memory is not like a video camera when the assumptions were made explicit and alternative responses were provided. In the second study, we replicated this finding and found a context effect whereby alternatives reduced endorsement of the video camera metaphor. For the first time we identified frequent reports of naturally occurring imagery involving moving scenes and showed that drawing attention to imagery increased agreement with the video camera metaphor. In a third study, we found that nonpsychologists' beliefs about accuracy-confidence, while reflecting considerable uncertainty, were more consistent with the current evidence than those of psychologists, and that they tended to use the term repression in a way consistent with scientific evidence. Overall, lay views of memory were considerably more nuanced and in line with research than has been suggested, contradicting claims of widespread memory "myths." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Type: Article
Title: Is the public understanding of memory prone to widespread "myths"?
Location: United States
DOI: 10.1037/xge0000610
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000610
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073157
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