How accurate are memories of traffic accidents? Increased false memory levels among motorcyclists when confronted with accident-related word lists

Dewi Maulina, Diandra Yasmine Irwanda, Thahira Hanum Sekarmewangi, Komang Meydiana Hutama Putri, Henry Otgaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies have found that false memories increase when people receive stimuli which is related to their knowledge base. In the current set of four experiments, we examined how accident experience affected false memory production among motorcyclists using different types of false memory word lists. Specifically, Experiments 1, 2, and 3 were conducted involving motorcyclists with and without accident experience, whereas Study 4 was conducted on non-motorcyclists without accident experience. In all experiments, participants were given associatively-related word lists known to foster false memory creation. Different types of word lists were used consisting of accident-related words, emotionally-negative words, and neutral words. Levels of false memory were measured using recall and recognition tests. We found consistent results in Experiments 1, 2, and 3 in which among motorcyclists, accident-related words produced higher levels of false memory than emotionally-negative and neutral words. This pattern was not observed in Experiment 4 where non-motorcyclists were involved. Our results shed light on the role of previous experience on false memory formation. One implication could be that the police should be careful with reports of motorcyclists' experiences about their accidents as motorcyclists may spontaneously come up with false, but related details concerning these experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-294
Number of pages20
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Volume80
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Deese–Roediger–McDermott list
  • False memories
  • Motorcyclists
  • Traffic accident
  • Word types

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