Contamination or natural variation? A comparison of contradictions from suggested contagion and intrinsic variation in repeated autobiographical accounts

Misia Temler*, Amanda J. Barnier, John Sutton, Doris J. F. McIlwain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Contradictions and other changes across retellings can result from contamination from others, deception, or natural variation. In this study we used the social contagion paradigm to investigate (a) the relative frequencies and types of contradictions resulting from outside suggestion and from natural variation, and (b) a baseline measure of variation in autobiographical memory accounts across retellings. Participants recalled memories of four personal events. One week later, participants and confederates alternated in describing their own and summarising each other's autobiographical events. The confederates included a contradictory contagion detail in two of the participants’ events. The participants then individually recalled their own events. Twenty percent of participants made contradictions due to contagion, but 63% of participants made contradictions due to intrinsic variation. Accounts also exhibited other forms of variation. Concern about negative evaluation and social closeness ratings predicted contradictions due to contagion but not intrinsic variation. We discuss applications to forensic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • social contagion
  • autobiographical memory
  • contradictions
  • consistency
  • social influence
  • forensic
  • asylum seeking

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Contamination or natural variation? A comparison of contradictions from suggested contagion and intrinsic variation in repeated autobiographical accounts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this