Implicit and explicit attitudinal consequences of false autobiographical memories and beliefs

Howe, David (Psychologist)

December 2017

Thesis or dissertation

© 2017 David Howe. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Previous research has reliably demonstrated that people can form false memories or beliefs of certain events from their personal past, and that these false memories and beliefs can have effects on attitudes and behaviour. When someone forms a false memory or belief of a positive/negative experience relating to a specific attitude object, they tend to change their attitude (and sometimes their behaviour) towards that attitude object accordingly. The research presented in this thesis attempted to build on past research by determining whether false memories and beliefs reliably elicited explicit attitude change across a range of attitudinal domains, whether they affected implicit attitudes as well as explicit attitudes, and whether certain individual difference variables and phenomenological characteristics of false memories had an influence on explicit or implicit attitudinal effects. It was consistently found that false memories and beliefs of a positive experience regarding an attitude object resulted in participants reporting significantly more preferential explicit attitudes towards that attitude object. Tentative evidence was found that false memories may be sufficient to affect implicit attitudes, but false beliefs may not. Results highlighted the potential influence of certain phenomenological characteristics of false memories on attitude change, but found limited evidence to suggest any influence of individual difference factors. The predictions and results of these experiments were considered within the context of theoretical frameworks of social cognition.

Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
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