Double misinformation: effects on eyewitness remembering

Hartmut Blank*, Anu Panday, Ross Edwards, Ewa Skopicz-Radkiewicz, Violet Gibson, Vasu Reddy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Eyewitnesses may be exposed to multiple, mutually contradictory pieces of misinformation. In the simplest case of double misinformation, an original detail is targeted by misinformation A and then by misinformation B which contradicts A. In such situations, two separate mechanisms may produce opposite effects on eyewitness remembering: (1) multiple chances to be misled enhance the misinformation effect, and (2) noticing contradictions between multiple pieces of misinformation undermines credibility and decreases the effect (all relative to the effect of a single piece of misinformation). Across three experiments, we found support for both of these effects and confirmed an important moderating factor in an item analysis: the first mechanism dominates at low levels of misinformation (encoding and subsequent) availability, and the second at high levels (as this facilitates noticing contradictions). This means that, ironically, more misinformation can be less effective (in terms of distorting eyewitness memory or factual knowledge) if it contradicts itself.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 2 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • eyewitness memory
  • misinformation
  • discrepancy detection

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