Poster E84, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
The Truth is Out There: Recall of Verifiable Naturalistic Events is Highly Accurate
Michael J. Armson1,2, Nicholas Diamond1,2, Daniela J. Palombo3, Margaret C. McKinnon4, Anthony Nazarov4, Brian Levine1,2; 1Baycrest, 2University of Toronto, 3Boston University, 4McMaster University
When presented with misleading information about previously experienced events, humans are prone to subsequent memory distortion. This and other demonstrations of the fallibility of human memory have supported a shift in emphasis from a storehouse metaphor of memory, characterized by a focus on quantity of items accessible to memory, to a correspondence metaphor, characterized by memory accuracy (Koriat & Goldsmith, 1996). Countless studies have examined memory accuracy through laboratory assessments, such as recognition memory tests or list-learning tasks. Relatively few studies, on the other hand, have investigated accuracy in a more ecologically valid naturalistic context, and none of these real-world memory studies have verified accuracy in autobiographical recall. Our lab assessed memory for three separate naturalistic events with objectively verifiable details – a traumatic airline flight, a standardized respiratory mask-fitting procedure, and an experimental museum-style tour of Baycrest Hospital. As part of the memory testing in these studies, we had participants (N = 90) recall their experiences according to the semi-structured Autobiographical Interview (Levine, Svoboda, Hay, Winocur, & Moscovitch, 2002). We leveraged our knowledge of event details to code for accuracy in addition to detail number and type. Across events, we found that participants were extremely accurate in terms of their verifiable recall. Excluding details that could not be confirmed or disconfirmed (e.g., thoughts), recall accuracy was approximately 90%. Our findings suggest that, in the absence of conditions known to produce false memory, narrative recall is highly accurate.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic