Brief Exposure to Misinformation Can Lead to Long-Term False Memories



Do false memories last? And do they last as long as true ones? This study investigated whether experimentally created false memories would persist for an extended period (one and a half years). A large number of subjects (N = 342) participated in a standard three-stage misinformation procedure (saw the event slides, read the narrations with misinformation, and then took the memory tests). The initial tests showed that misinformation led to a significant amount of false memory. One and a half years later, the participants were tested again. About half of the misinformation false memory persisted, which was the same rate as for true memory. These results strongly suggest that brief exposure to misinformation can lead to long-term false memory and that the strength of memory trace was similar for true and false memories. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.