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Disowned recollections: Denying true experiences undermines belief in occurrence but not judgments of remembering

Mazzoni, Giuliana; Clark, Andrew; Nash, Robert A.


Giuliana Mazzoni

Andrew Clark

Robert A. Nash


Recent research findings have illustrated that false memories induced in the laboratory can be dissociated from the beliefs that the events had in fact occurred. In this study we assessed whether this dissociability is a quality peculiar to false memory, or whether it represents a general characteristic of autobiographical memory. To this end we examined whether people can be induced to stop believing in memories for true experiences. Participants observed and performed simple actions, and were later falsely informed that they had not performed some of them—that false memories for these actions had been implanted through the use of fabricated evidence. Before and after receiving this misinformation, participants rated their belief in and memory of performing those actions, other actions that they had also performed, and actions that they had not performed. Whereas the misinformation substantially undermined participants’ beliefs in the specific performed actions about which they had been misinformed, it had little effect on their endorsement of remembering those actions. The misinformation thus boosted the proportion of occasions in which participants rated their memories as stronger than their beliefs, and it weakened the correlation between belief and memory ratings. Thus, this study provides the first experimental demonstration of nonbelieved memories of true experiences. We discuss our findings with reference to the small literature concerning the use of socially- communicated misinformation to undermine event memories, and with reference to the structure of autobiographical memory.


Mazzoni, G., Clark, A., & Nash, R. A. (2014). Disowned recollections: Denying true experiences undermines belief in occurrence but not judgments of remembering. Acta Psychologica, 145(1), 139-146.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 24, 2013
Online Publication Date Dec 15, 2013
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 21, 2015
Journal Acta psychologica
Print ISSN 0001-6918
Electronic ISSN 1873-6297
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 145
Issue 1
Pages 139-146
Keywords Non-believed memories, Misinformation, Autobiographical belief, Autobiographical memory
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Acta psychologica, 2014, v.145, January at


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