Should I believe this? Reality monitoring of accounts of self-experienced and invented recent and distant autobiographical events



To examine personal and interpersonal reality monitoring, 240 participants wrote accounts of invented or self-experienced autobiographical events. Half the participants wrote about a distant event that happened before the age of 15 and half wrote about a recent event that happened after the age of 15. Using a yoked design, participants rated the qualitative details of their own accounts and the details of other participants' accounts. Consistent with previous research, we found that self-experienced accounts contained more qualitative details than invented accounts, and that accounts of recent events contained more qualitative details than accounts of distant events. Participants rated their own accounts as more qualitatively detailed than other participants' accounts, which suggests that they did not base their self-ratings solely on the written details. We discuss the practical and theoretical importance of our findings. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.