False Memories: Evidence for Unintentional Processing of Semantically Related Words using a Stroop Variation Task
Bryn Mawr College. Department of Psychology
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The present study examined false recognition of semantically related non-presented words. We were primarily interested in replicating a study by Dodd and MacLeod (2004) where false memories were produced in groups intentionally processing words (by reading or studying) and unintentionally processing words (performing a variation of the Stroop task). Seventy-five undergraduate students (30 in the unintentional group, 30 in the intentional group and 15 in the control group) completed a primary task followed by a recognition test for actually presented and non-presented words. Results revealed that false alarms to non-presented words were robust and fairly similar across all groups. These findings are consistent with an activation/monitoring theory where semantically related words may evoke similar yet nonpresented words through conscious realization or through unconsciously and automatic activation.