Investigating the relationship between false memory formation and emotional response
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Previous research on the phenomenon known as “False Memory” has shown that there is a direct relationship between false memory formation and emotional response. Conclusions on the whole were derived from results of experiments that evaluated false memory prompted solely by stimuli that represented positive and negative emotions. Research for this thesis sought to further the discussion through the use of experiments that targeted, more specifically, the five basic emotions described by Power & Dalgleish (2008) as: happiness, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness. Additionally, this research tested the effects of, and/or relationships between, false memory and the basic emotions of the members of the study, to include depressed, dysphoric, and control-group individuals. In a departure from earlier studies, these experiments assessed the effects on groups across cultures-- namely Syrian and British--as well as across time. There were 204 participants in three studies, and they were divided into two groups according to their scores on the BDI II: dysphoric and non-dysphoric. There were two samples representing two different societies: Syrian and British. Additionally, in the fourth experiment, there were 41 clinically depressed patients and 20 in the control group. Four studies were conducted in which participants viewed a series of both emotional and non-emotional pictures taken from the IAPS. Participants were asked to answer a series of questions. There were two questions for each picture; one of the questions was based on actual content within the various pictures while the other was designed to elicit a confabulated response by suggesting content that was not actually present. The participants returned to the lab one week later and were asked the same questions again. The findings show that accuracy of memory is diminished, and quality of memory is impaired, in both immediate and delayed recall conditions when leading questions were used to elicit responses--the questions that suggested content not in evidence. Participants produced more false memories to the emotional pictures than they did to the non-emotional pictures, with the exception of disgust-related pictures for which they produced significantly fewer false memories. False memory manifested to a greater degree in the delayed recall condition than it did in the immediate recall condition. Cultural factors proved to have no influence on false memory formation. Correct memories from dysphoric/depressed participants were less than correct memories from their non-dysphoric/depressed counterparts. There was a significant relationship between correct memories and emotional content of the pictures. Correct memories decreased across time. The implications of the research are examined for the relationship between emotion and false memory.