Location of Repository

Why do doctored images distort memory?

By Robert Alastair Nash, Kimberley A. Wade and Rebecca J. Brewer


Doctored images can cause people to believe in and remember experiences that never occurred, yet the underlying mechanism(s) responsible are not well understood. How does compelling false evidence distort autobiographical memory? Subjects were filmed observing and copying a Research Assistant performing simple actions, then they returned 2 days later for a memory test. Before taking the test, subjects viewed video-clips of simple actions, including actions that they neither observed nor performed earlier. We varied the format of the video-clips between-subjects to tap into the source-monitoring mechanisms responsible for the ‘doctored-evidence effect.’ The distribution of belief and memory distortions across conditions suggests that at least two mechanisms are involved: doctored images create an illusion of familiarity, and also enhance the perceived credibility of false suggestions. These findings offer insight into how external evidence influences source-monitoring

Topics: BF
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:1061

Suggested articles



  1. (2008). 1). Web social networkers doctor photographs.
  2. (2009). 5). Science found wanting in nation’s crime labs.
  3. (2006). A lie for a lie: False confessions and the case for reconsidering the legality of deceptive interrogation techniques.
  4. (2002). A picture is worth a thousand lies: Using false photographs to create false childhood memories. doi
  5. Address correspondence to Robert Nash, Psychology Department,
  6. (2002). Autobiographical memories and beliefs: A preliminary metacognitive model. In doi
  7. (1973). Availability: a heuristic for judging frequency and probability. doi
  8. (2003). Cognitive and affective consequences of visual fluency: When seeing is easy on the mind. In
  9. (2009). Digitally manipulating memory: Effects of doctored videos and imagination in distorting beliefs and memories. doi
  10. (2005). How eyewitnesses resist misinformation: Social postwarnings and the monitoring of memory characteristics. doi
  11. (2002). Increasing confidence in remote autobiographical memory and general knowledge: Extensions of the revelation effect. doi
  12. (2009). Innocent but proven guilty: Eliciting internalized false confessions using doctored-video evidence. doi
  13. (1989). Memory attributions. In
  14. (1988). Phenomenal characteristics of memories for perceived and imagined autobiographical events. doi
  15. (2004). Plausibility and belief in autobiographical memory. doi
  16. (2008). Remembering what we did: How source misattributions arise from verbalization, mental imagery, and pictures. In
  17. (1993). Source monitoring. doi
  18. (2008). Source Monitoring. In doi
  19. (2005). Strategies for verifying false autobiographical memories. doi
  20. (2003). The power of the spoken word: Sociolinguistic cues influence the misinformation effect. doi
  21. (2004). The psychology of confessions: A review of the literature and issues. doi
  22. (2004). True photographs and false memories. doi
  23. (2005). When photographs create false memories. doi
  24. (2006). Why experts make errors.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.