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Misremembering events: emotional valence, psychopathic traits, and the misinformation effect

Faculty Advisor




misinformation, memory, emotional valence, psychopathic traits

Abstract (summary)

Past research has demonstrated increased susceptibility to misinformation under varying conditions, including negative emotional scenes. In addition, psychopathic traits have been associated with emotional deficits which may lead to differences in memory processing. The present study examined emotional valence and psychopathic traits in relation to the misinformation effect. Participants (n = 334) were exposed to emotional scenes (positive, neutral, negative), completed a measure of psychopathic traits (PPI-R), and were asked either misleading or nonleading questions. Accuracy and susceptibility to misinformation were assessed through a series of open-ended questions and accuracy scoring. Accuracy was highest for both emotional (60%) relative to neutral (53.9%) images. Memory differences in recall of negative versus positive scenes was evidenced dependent on attentional focus. Participants in the misled condition were less accurate in their recall overall, and recalled more misleading information (41.18% relative to 14.16%). In addition, individuals who received misleading suggestions were more likely to incorporate the major misleading detail into their memory for the negative scene. Psychopathic traits were not related to accuracy; however, those high in psychopathic traits tended to incorporate more misinformation into memory. Our results have important implications concerning how individuals remember emotional events, including people high in psychopathic traits, and follow up studies considering attention/motivation and misinformation are required.

Publication Information

Peace, K. A., & Constantin, K. M. (2016). Misremembering events: Emotional valence, psychopathic traits, and the misinformation effect. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 31, 189-199. doi: 10.1007/s11896-015-9178-1


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