Nonbelieved memories across the adult lifespan

Alan Scoboria, Amina Memon, Julie Gawrylowicz, A. Clark

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Nonbelieved memories (NBMs) are vivid memories that people no longer believe represent events that happened. This study examined NBMs across the adult lifespan. Participants (N=138, ages 18-72) described a nonbelieved memory, why they stopped believing the memory, dated the memory, and rated the memory on metacognitive and recollective features. Participants also rated age-matched believed memories and believed-not-remembered events (e.g., family stories). While the NBMs were dated across the lifespan, the majority were dated in mid-to-late childhood (ages 4-12) indicating that autobiographical belief for memories from this period is vulnerable to revision later in life. Commensurate with prior findings, believed and nonbelieved memories shared similar recollective qualities, and NBMs were rated as less important and less coherent. This pattern did not differ as a function of age, time since the event, or time since withdrawal of belief. NBMs remain vivid for long periods of time once formed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-474
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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