Informational Social Influence Intensifies the Misinformation Effect when Applied to Immutable Item and Temporal Order Memory
Keywords:misinformation effect, memory, information type, informational social influence, eyewitness testimony
The importance surrounding the fallibility of eyewitness testimony is evident from the literature (Loftus, 2005) and its unreliability is cited as a leading cause for wrongful convictions (The Innocence Project, 2017). The present study examined the misinformation effect linked to temporal order and immutable item memories from an episodic event. It also investigated whether informational social influence would intensify this effect. Fifty-two participants (33 women and 19 men) carried out the study using the misinformation paradigm’s three-stage standard suggestibility procedure. Supporting the first hypothesis, participants exposed to informational social influence did yield to higher levels of misinformation. Indeed, in terms of immutable item memory, informational social influence was shown to be a causal factor in increasing the misinformation effect threefold. Congruent with the second hypothesis, participant’s memory recognition accuracy did differ when information type was distorted. Participants demonstrated that temporal order memory was less susceptible to misinformation than that of immutable item memory. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for real-life eyewitness testimonies and the accuracy of the criminal justice system’s factual determinations.