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Personalized and not general suggestion produces false autobiographical memories and suggestion-consistent behavior

Scoboria, Alan; Mazzoni, Giuliana; Jarry, Josée L.; Bernstein, Daniel M.


Alan Scoboria

Giuliana Mazzoni

Josée L. Jarry

Daniel M. Bernstein


Suggesting false childhood events produces false autobiographical beliefs, memories and suggestion-consistent behavior. The mechanisms by which suggestion affects behavior are not understood, and whether false beliefs and memories are necessary for suggestions to impact behavior remains unexplored. We examined the relative effects of providing a personalized suggestion (suggesting that an event occurred to the person in the past), and/or a general suggestion (suggesting that an event happened to others in the past). Participants (N = 122) received a personalized suggestion, a general suggestion, both or neither, about childhood illness due to spoiled peach yogurt. The personalized suggestion resulted in false beliefs, false memories, and suggestion-consistent behavioral intentions immediately after the suggestion. One week or one month later participants completed a taste test that involved eating varieties of crackers and yogurts. The personalized suggestion led to reduced consumption of only peach yogurt, and those who reported a false memory showed the most eating suppression. This effect on behavior was equally strong after one week and one month, showing a long lived influence of the personalized suggestion. The general suggestion showed no effects. Suggestions that convey personal information about a past event produce false autobiographical memories, which in turn impact behavior. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Scoboria, A., Mazzoni, G., Jarry, J. L., & Bernstein, D. M. (2012). Personalized and not general suggestion produces false autobiographical memories and suggestion-consistent behavior. Acta Psychologica, 139(1), 225-232.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 20, 2011
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2011
Publication Date 2012-01
Journal Acta psychologica
Print ISSN 0001-6918
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 139
Issue 1
Pages 225-232
Keywords False memory; False autobiographical belief; Suggestion; Eating
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