Research on memory conformity shows that social remembering can influence people's memories. In fact,
our memory is not as accurate as we thought. There are several factors that can distort our memory: stimuli
association effects; interference; imagination; guessing processes; retrieval mechanisms; individual differences; and social constraints. In our study we decided to study social constrains, particularly, the influence of other’s testimony in our memory traces.
Our participants, young adults, were involved in a social influence procedure (based on Asch’s paradigm). In the encoding phase we presented a scene of a car accident and after a short retrieval interval the participants answered some questions about the scene they just viewed. The situation involved three participants each time (two of them were experimenters confederates and the other was a naïve participant). The naïve participant answered the questions related to the car accident scene after the other two, and the main experimental manipulation was that: for some of the questions the confederates gave answers that are clearly wrong (e.g., the colour of the cars was white but they answered pale yellow).
After one week the participant returned to the laboratory and individually filled a questionnaire about the scene previously seen – the retrieval phase.
Results showed that at the retrieval phase: (1) the conformist situation produces less accurate memory, that is, the capacity to recall details decreased; (2) the memory for the wrong answers done by the confederates produced a large interference on the participants memory; (3) subjects that believe to be more influenced by others are more susceptible to alter their memory traces.
Albuquerque, P. B. (2005). Mentira e memória: Um problema à procura de respostas. Paper presented at the Jornadas de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação, Coimbra: Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal.; Albuquerque, P. B., & Freire, T. (2006, 5 a 7 Outubro). Memória para emoções: Efeito do tempo e do tipo de emoção na consistência da resposta. Paper presented at the XI Conferência Internacional de Avaliação Psicológica:
Formas e Contextos, Braga, Universidade do Minho, Portugal.; Albuquerque, P. B., Pandeirada, J., & Sousa, C.
(2005, 31 de Agosto a 3 de Setembro). False memories and time to answer: Correctness, episodic access and
certainty. Paper presented at the XIVth ESCoP Conference, Leiden: University of Leiden, Holanda.; Albuquerque, P. B., & Sousa, C. (2006, 6-7 de Abril). Contributos da psicologia da memória para a melhoria da recordação de acontecimentos: O papel da entrevista cognitiva. Paper presented at the 1º Congresso Internacional de Psicologia Forense, Braga, Universidade do Minho, Portugal.; Sousa, C., & Albuquerque, P. B. (2005a, 31 de Agosto a 3 de Setembro). The effects of emotion on memory: The contribute of the cognitive interview. Paper presented at the XIVth ESCoP Conference, Leiden: University of Leiden, Holanda.; Sousa, C., & Albuquerque, P. B. (2005b, 31 de Outubro a 3 de Novembro). Emoção e memória: Estudo do efeito dos processos de recuperação mnésica na capacidade de recordação. Paper presented at the Psicologia e (in)justiça: Vítimas Crimes e Ofensores, Évora: Universidade de Évora, Portugal.; Sousa, C., & Albuquerque, P. B. (2006, 25-28 de Maio). Remembering unexpected events. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, APS, Nova Iorque, USA.