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Abstract

Real-life witnesses often encounter complex situations that may prevent them from devoting their full attention to encoding forensically-relevant information about the event. Although prior research has demonstrated that divided attention can impair aspects of event memory, the current study examined the effect of attention during encoding of the event on participants' memory for the source of post-event misleading information. Participants first viewed a slide sequence depicting a theft under full or divided attention conditions. Subsequently, they answered questions about the event that included misleading information, and finally received a source test. Results revealed that Divided Attention participants showed poorer memory for event items and were more likely to misattribute post-event misinformation to the event than were Full Attention participants. The findings suggest that typical laboratory conditions (which allow full deployment of attentional resources during encoding) may underestimate the suggestibility of witnesses. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.