Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Beyond the text: illusions of recollection caused by script-based inferences

Dewhurst, Stephen A.; Holmes, Selina J.; Swannell, Ellen R.; Barry, Christopher


Selina J. Holmes

Ellen R. Swannell

Christopher Barry


Three experiments investigated memory distortions produced by scripts activated when hearing a story. In Experiment 1, participants heard a story with one of two alternative titles. At test, the words that were falsely recognised varied according to the title of the story, though the story itself was the same for all participants. Experiment 2 replicated this effect and found that words rated as central to a script were more likely to be falsely recognised than words rated as peripheral. Participants in Experiment 3 heard a cryptic story with a disambiguating title presented either before, after, or not at all. Script-based errors were observed only in participants given the title before the story. In all three experiments, falsely recognised words were frequently categorised as "remember" responses, based on illusory conscious recollection. These findings show that inferences produce a powerful illusion of memory that is not simply due to verbal associations.


Dewhurst, S. A., Holmes, S. J., Swannell, E. R., & Barry, C. (2008). Beyond the text: illusions of recollection caused by script-based inferences. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 20(2), 367-386.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 7, 2008
Publication Date Mar 1, 2008
Print ISSN 0954-1446
Electronic ISSN 1464-0635
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 367-386
Keywords Creating false memories; Recognition; Memory; Decision-processes
Public URL
Publisher URL