Is the truth in the detail? extended narratives help distinguishing false “memories” from false “reports”

B. Sjoden, P. Granhag, James Ost, E. Roos af Hjelmsater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the effects of fantasy proneness on false “reports” and false “memories”, of existent and non-existent footage of a public event. We predicted that highly fantasy prone individuals would be more likely to stand by their initial claim of having seen a film of the event than low fantasy prone participants when prompted for more details about their experiences. Eighty creative arts students and 80 other students were asked whether they had seen CCTV footage preceding the attack on Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh up to, and including, non-existent footage of the actual moment of the attack. If affirmative, they were probed for extended narratives of what they claimed to have seen. Overall, 64% of participants provided a false “report” by answering yes to the initial question. Of these, 30% provided no explicit details of the attack, and a further 15% retracted their initial answer in their narratives. This left 19% of the sample who appeared to have false “memories” because they provided explicit details of the actual moment of the attack. Women scored higher than men and art students scored higher than other students on fantasy proneness, but there was no effect on levels of false reporting or false “memory”. Memories were rated more vivid and clear for existent compared to non-existent aspects of the event. In sum, these data suggest a more complex relationship between memory distortions and fantasy proneness than previously observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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