Creating Memories for False Autobiographical Events in Childhood: A Systematic Review

Chris Brewin, Bernice Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a framework that distinguishes autobiographical belief, recollective experience, and confidence in memory, we review three major paradigms used to suggest false childhood events to adults: imagination inflation, false feedback and memory implantation. Imagination inflation and false feedback studies increase the belief that a suggested event occurred by a small amount such that events are still thought unlikely to have happened. In memory implantation studies, some recollective experience for the suggested events is induced on average in 47% of participants, but only in 15% are these experiences likely to be rated as full memories. We conclude that susceptibility to false memories of childhood events appears more limited than has been suggested. The data emphasise the complex judgements involved in distinguishing real from imaginary recollections and caution against accepting investigator‐based ratings as necessarily corresponding to participants' self‐reports. Recommendations are made for presenting the results of these studies in courtroom settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-23
Number of pages22
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date8 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

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