How to protect eyewitness memory against the misinformation effect: a meta-analysis of post-warning studies

Hartmut Blank, Céline Launay

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Abstract

Four decades of research and hundreds of studies speak to the power of post-event misinformation to bias eyewitness accounts of events (see e.g., Loftus’ summary, 2005). A subset of this research has explored if the adverse influence of misinformation on remembering can be undone or at least reduced through a later warning about its presence. We meta-analyzed 25 such post-warning studies (including 155 effect sizes) to determine the effectiveness of different types of warnings and to explore moderator effects. Key findings were that (1) post-warnings are surprisingly effective, reducing the misinformation effect to less than half of its size on average. (2) Some types of post-warning (following a theoretical classification) seem to be more effective than others, particularly studies using an enlightenment procedure ( Blank, 1998). (3) The post-warning reduction in the misinformation effect reflects a specific increase in misled performance (relative to no warning), at negligible cost for control performance. We conclude with a discussion of theoretical and practical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume3
Issue number2
Early online date4 Apr 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014

Keywords

  • eyewitness memory
  • misinformation effect
  • post-warning
  • meta-analysis

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