Article Summary: You say tomato? Collaborative remembering leads to more false memories for intimate couples than for strangers
Many times, people give conflicting accounts of events from their memories. We spend a lot of time talking to different people including strangers and our romantic partners. Research has shown that people report different memories depending on whom they are talking to. The primary reason for this discrepancy is that people’s memories are driven by goals and not actual memories. This is known as memory conformity (French, et al 263). It happens when people watch two different versions of one event and then when they discuss it together; they remember things that they did not actually see.
The misinformation effect occurs when a person recalls information that they gained after an event rather than what they witnessed during the event. Research has shown that people can resist this misinformation effect when they deem the source of information as not being credible. People are also affected by other things such as a speaker’s accent reporting information. From this, people are more willing to trust their romantic partners as compared to a stranger. To prove this, a study was carried out involving pairs of romantic pairs and other pairs of strangers (French, et al 264). These participants were shown different versions of the same movie, and they later discussed the film with their partner. The control items were the records of memory that were not discussed. The findings showed that the subjects showed accurate memory for topics they did not discuss as compared to those items discussed.
There were 64 participants; 32 romantic partners, and 32 strangers. The romantic partners had been together for at least three months. All pairs were heterogeneous. After watching the film, they were given a logic puzzle to fill. Another group discussed questions after the movie. The results showed that the participants were equally likely to dispute a point of misinformation during the discussion. Romantic couples contradicted each other 39 out of 76 times while the strangers challenged each other 36 of 78 times. It was found that each was good at recalling non-discussed items (French, et al 268). However, both groups were worse at remembering the discussed subjects. From their records, they indicated what they were told by their partners rather than what they saw. Couples took longer to document their results that the strangers. It is suggested that the extra time was spent arguing and holding their ground; hence the romantic partners were less likely to be misled by their partner.
The type of relationship did not influence the individual’s confidence that their answer was correct. Both strangers and couples were also more confident about their real memories than false ones. Other factors that influenced memory apart from relationship include who spoke first in the discussion. When analyzing the results, partners agreed but later changed their answers privately which is a sign of normative influence. Where there was a dispute during the discussion, 26% of couples used misinformation in the records while 17% of strangers did (French, et al 272). These results fit in with the importance of the source of information in memory. People often discuss events with others that they know rather than a stranger, and their memories are more susceptible to distortion as a result. This can affects the legal system because witnesses usually know each other and have time to discuss events. This affects the accuracy of their memories and also makes them more confident even in the memory is false. A jury will be willing to consider the account of a confident witness even when their memory may not be correct. This can also work vice versa when a witness incorporates accurate details into their account to make them more confident. The study shows the potential for further research into how people influence each other’s memories.
French, Lauren, Maryanne Garry, and Kazuo Mori. “You say tomato? Collaborative remembering leads to more false memories for intimate couples than for strangers.” Memory16.3 (2008): 262-273.