Why there is no false memory trait and why everyone is susceptible to memory distortions: the dual encoding interference hypothesis (commentary on Bernstein, Scoboria, Desjarlais, & Soucie, 2018)

Lawrence Patihis*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Until recently, it was unclear whether there is an identifiable "trait" that represents a person's vulnerability to developing false memories. Two articles in the current issue (Bernstein, Scoboria, Desjarlais, & Soucie, 2018; Patihis, Frenda, & Loftus, 2018) find scant evidence that performance on any one false memory task could reliably predict performance on another. Individual difference measures also were poor predictors of false memories, consistent with past research. I argue that these findings, and other converging evidence, suggest there is no false memory trait, that all people are susceptible to false memories, and that memory distortions likely arise from brain structures and mechanisms common to all people. Accepting the idea that all people are susceptible to false memories, and not just the 25% or so who typically report a false memory in any single study, has important implications for preventing memory distortions in psychotherapy and other settings. In this article, I also propose the Dual Encoding Interference hypothesis that explains why trait-like individual difference measures typically correlate negligibly with false memory tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-184
Number of pages5
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory Research, and Practice
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • False memory
  • Memory distortion
  • Prone
  • Susceptibility
  • Trait

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