AbstractThe aim of this experiment is to examine the effectsof full and divided attention on false recognition using the DRM paradigm. Thisstudy was conducted to confirm previous findings that divided attention elicitsreduced false remember responses to critical lures. 23 participants took partin a repeated measures experiment that involved remembering word lists in twoconditions. They completed a recognition test after each condition, based onthe remember/know procedure.
Results indicated there was no difference in falsememory production for either attention conditions and more false rememberresponses were produced. The findings are inconsistent with previous resultsand reasons why will be discussed. IntroductionFalse memories are based on misleadinginformation producing memory errors. Memory is quite flexible – when we learnnew information, our knowledge base further develops and our memory allows usto combine this information with what is previously stored. As a result, memoryis fragile as details about one event has the potential to be contaminated withdetails of other events. False memories are studied using theDeese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm (Deese, 1959; Roediger and McDermott,1995), involving a list of words presented to participants associated withanother unseen word, a critical lure.
Evidence shows that people are morelikely to falsely recall seeing the critical lure therefore, a false memory iscreated. The Activation Monitoring Theory (AMT; Roediger, Watson, McDermott,& Gallo, 2001) can explain this. When word lists are encoded, these wordsactivate others and this causes spreading of activation. Consequently, somewords become incorrectly activated due to associationwith others previously stored.
At recall, there are memory errors regarding thesource of the memory leading to participants unable to discriminate between presentedwords and ones generated internally. Subsequently, this causes participants tofalsely recognise critical lures that were not originally presented to them. The’Remember/Know’ procedure (Tulving, 1985) can be used to test recognition ofword lists and involves remember (R) responses or know (K) responses. Rresponses are based on conscious recollection whereas, K responses depend onfamiliarity feelings. Roediger and McDermott (1995) used this procedure andfound more R responses were associated with false recognition. Numerous studies have explained how false memories arecreated using the AMT.
For instance, researchers looked at factors such asstrength of word lists and presentation speed. Research on false memory andattention has found evidence of impairing associative activation duringencoding. For example, Knott and Dewhurst (2007) used the DRM paradigm andmanipulated attention. During the full attention (FA) condition, participants studiedword lists silently, while in the divided attention (DA) condition, they had togenerate random numbers simultaneously viewing word lists. Findings revealedmore false R responses were produced during the FA condition, indicating FAsignificantly increased the number of false recognition responses to criticallures. At retrieval, the DA condition had a reduced number of correct and falseR responses, whereas DA had no effect on K responses. Further supportingresearch for attention and false memory is put forward by Dewhurst, Barry,Swannell, Holmes, & Bathurst (2007).
They had participants randomlygenerate numbers or perform a digit-monitoring task. The results demonstratedthat DA at study produced a reduced amount of correct and false R responses.Findings implied DA had no significant effect on correct and false K responses.Research conducted by Dewhurst, Barry, & Holmes (2005) found the samepattern of results, suggesting DA disrupts participants from activatingsemantic associates, thus reducing R responses. The purpose of this experiment is to replicate previousresearch regarding the effects of attention on false recognition. The aim is toinvestigate the effects of full and divided attention on false recognitionusing the DRM paradigm.
Previous research found that DA reduces the ability toactivate critical lures. Based on this, we predict that less false memorieswill be generated during DA as words are less likely to be encoded during thestudy phase. Additionally, attention will have a more significant effect on Rresponses as this relies on conscious recollection while DA will produce less Rresponses because there will be a disruption in activating semantic associatesduring encoding. MethodParticipantsTwenty-three participants were used with an age rangeof 15-38 (M = 22.09, SD = 5.60). Inclusion criteria for thisexperiment was that participants had to be under 40 years of age.
An opportunitysample was utilised, consisting of 6 male and 17 female undergraduate studentsattending City University London as well as family members. Participants werenot paid for taking part in this research.DesignA 2×2 repeated measures design was used. Theindependent variable (IV) was attention containing two levels – full anddivided. The dependent variable (DV) was false recognition rates as well as recollectiveexperience associated with these false responses, and this was measured by R/Kresponses made to critical lures.
To reduce the risk of confounding variablesBackward Associative Strength (BAS) for word lists were matched, andcounterbalancing of study lists and attention conditions controlled for ordereffects. Materials/StimuliParticipants were given an information sheet and aconsent form before the experiment. A laptop was used to present participantswith the PowerPoints containing the word lists. Two PowerPoints were used eachcontaining 50 words. The DRM word lists (see Appendix A) were taken from Roedigeret al. (2001). Each word list contained 15 associates of a critical lure.
Thefirst ten words were chosen from ten different word lists which were thendivided into two sets of five, creating two study lists (A and B). The listswere controlled for BAS using lists with similar means. Presentation of wordsin each list was also controlled for, the word with the highest BAS mean presentedfirst, followed by the other nine words in descending order of BAS means.Participants were provided with two recognition tests, A and B, whichcorresponded to study lists A and B. Both recognition tests contained 20 words– five critical lures associated with the words lists in each PowerPoint, fiveunrelated words taken from any unused word lists, and ten studied words (oneword with high BAS and one with low BAS from each list). The words in thePowerPoint were presented in the same way for all participants. A booklet ofmazes was also given to participants as a filler task. Furthermore, a 50 beats perminute metronome audio was used for the DA condition.
Procedure Participants reported their age and gender and signeda consent form before starting the experiment. Verbal instructions were givenbefore they took part in either the full or divided attention experiment. Theconditions and study lists were counterbalanced.
The experiment took place in aquiet location and lasted approximately 15 minutes. For the FA condition,participants were instructed to study the words in silence and attempt to rememberas many words as they would be tested on this later. They were then shown a PowerPointwhich contained either study list A or B. The words were visually presented fortwo seconds, with a three second break in between each word list. Participantsthen took part in a five-minute filler task.
After this they were givenrecognition test A or B depending on which study list they recently viewed. Thetest contained written instructions where participants were instructed tocircle ‘new’ if the words were not familiar. They circled ‘old’ if theyremembered the word. If they circled ‘old’ they either circled ‘remember’ ifthey consciously recollected the word or ‘know’ if they felt the word wasfamiliar (remember/know procedure). Participants were then informed that theywould be taking part in the second condition after a five minute break.
For theDA condition, participants were told that they had to remember as many words aspossible, but while viewing the word lists they must simultaneously generatenumbers from 1-20 at each sound of the metronome. They could not generatenumber patterns (e.g. 2, 4, 6…) or count in order of numbers.
Due to therepeated measures design, they were shown the PowerPoint containing the studylist that had not yet been viewed. They then took part in the filler task againbefore completing another recognition test relating to the list they studied. Aftercompletion, participants were debriefed and informed of the nature and aim ofthe study. An opportunity to ask questions was provided and assured they would bekept anonymous. ResultsThe effects of attention on false recognitionresponses to critical lures was analysed using a 2 (attention – full anddivided) x 2 (recollective experience – remember and know) repeated measuresANOVA (see Appendix B).
Attention had two levels (full and divided) and thiswas the repeated measures factor. Recollective experience was measured by the Rand K responses and included as a post-hoc factor to examine the effect ofattention and recollective experience. Consequently, the effects of attentionon R and K responses were examined individually. Table 1 shows the Means andStandard Deviations for the false recognition responses for each level ofattention.
There was no main effect of attention, F(1, 22) = 1.78, p >.05, ?p2 = .08, indicating that there was no significantdifference in false recognition responses to critical lures in either the FA (M= 0.30) or DA (M = 0.
34) condition. However, there was a main effect forrecollective experience, F(1, 22) = 29.85, p < .
05, ?p2 = .58. This shows thatthere were more falsely recognised R responses (M = 0.47) compared to Kresponses (M = 0.17). There was no significant interaction betweenattention and recollective experience, F(1, 22) = .
98, p > .05,?p2 = .04. Table 1. Meansand Standard Deviations of false remember and know recognition responses forfull and divided attention.
Full Divided M SD M SD Remember 0.47 0.19 0.46 0.25 Know 0.13 0.14 0.22 0.
20 DiscussionThe aim of this experiment was to investigate theeffects of full and divided attention on false recognition using the DRMparadigm. The results obtained indicate that there was a significant effect ofrecollective experience, highlighting that more false R responses were made.However, there was no significant effect for attention, suggesting there was nodifference in false memory production for full and divided attention.Furthermore, there was no interaction between attention and recollectiveexperience, demonstrating that attention type does not affect R and K responseswhen making false memories using the DRM paradigm.
These findings contradictprevious research as they found a main effect of attention, whereby there werehigher false recognition responses to critical lures in the FA condition (Knott& Dewhurst, 2007; Dewhurst et al., 2007; Dewhurst et al., 2005). Additionally,DA had no significant effect on K responses.
According to Dewhurst et al.(2007), this is because K responses are not under the influence of consciouscontrol, challenging our results which found a main effect of recollectiveexperience. Additionally, findings revealed that DA produced significantly lessR responses at recognition and this was due to words encoded less accurately duringthe study phase. According to the AMT, there was a reduced chance to makesemantic associates with the words leading to the inhibition of R responses. Thepresent study’s results are inconsistent with this theory and the DRM paradigm. Previous findings found effects of attention on falserecognition and these were quite robust.
The acquired results could be due tosome limitations such as the number of word lists used. For example, Knott& Dewhurst (2007) used 12 lists per condition (120 words in total), whereasthis study only had 50 words for each condition. This means there was lessopportunity for participants to create false memories as there were less wordsto remember. Additionally, the power is likely to be low in our study as weonly tested 23 participants. Knott and Dewhurst (2007) and Dewhurst et al.(2007) both tested 48 participants, therefore the results obtained may havebeen significant if there was sufficient power.
Also, the random numbergeneration (RNG) task for the DA condition may not have been challenging,therefore future research may want to use varying levels of difficulty, consequentlypreventing encoding at the study phase so that semantic associates are notformed. Further to this, a repeated measures design was used so participantsmay have guessed the aim of the study. As a result, they may have not carriedout the RNG task properly, focusing on memorising the words instead. Futureresearch could perhaps use a between-subjects design to test attention and falserecognition. Furthermore, each recognition test contained only 20 words including5 critical lures, so participants may have been able to discriminate easily betweenold and new words. The odd number of critical lures affected the percentageswhen scoring the data. Ideally, each test should contain an even number ofcritical lures which was evident in previous research, and at least 36 words, whichwas the amount used in Dewhurst et al.
‘s, 2007 study. A final limitation isthat word lists were used to create false memories, which is artificial stimuliand not relevant to real-life events such as false memories in eyewitnesstestimonies. In conclusion, this study is inconsistent with previousfindings which found that attention has an effect on false recognition usingthe DRM paradigm. This is explained using the Activation Monitoring Theorywhich can be used to impair associative activation.