The effect of perceptual fluency on accurate, false and predicted memory performance
Yüksel, Ezgi Melisa
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The retrieval of memories does not reflect the exact copy of the original event and may include false information. Studies show that people become more susceptible to false memories due to post-event misinformation. One factor that might make the retrieval of the original event more problematic is the perceptual fluency of the information. If participants cannot clearly see the event, they might have an increased potential to integrate more false memories from the post-event knowledge. Finally, participants’ predictions during encoding about how they will remember the original event might change, depending on the perceptual fluency, ease, and clarity of experiencing the original event. The current study aimed to examine the effects of perceptual fluency on accurate, false, and predicted memories. In three sets of experiments, participants were presented with picture stories, either in a fluent or disfluent form in a within-subjects design in the encoding phase. In the post-event misinformation phase, participants saw all the stories that they saw in the encoding phase again in a fluent format, with some of the details changed. At the test phase, participants’ actual and false memories were measured through a forced-choice recognition test with three-choices: correct, misinformation, and foil. In Experiment 1, participants were also asked to rate their future memory performance through Judgments of Learning (JOLs). In Experiments 2 and 3, JOLs were not collected to control JOLs’ reactivity. Additionally, in Experiment 3, the possible effect of guess responses was controlled. The results of three experiments revealed that there was a consistency between predicted and actual memory for the disfluent items: participants’ JOLs and memory performances were lower for the disfluent images than the fluent images. Participants showed a tendency to choose misinformation over the unrelated choice (i.e., foil), indicating that the misinformation manipulation increased the susceptibility to false memory. Contrary to predicted and actual memory, the disfluent or fluent presentation did not make any significant difference in the rate of false memories (susceptibility to misinformation). The results were in line with the perceptual fluency hypothesis and false memory literature.