The Influence of Pop-Culture on Misattribution of Memory


Social media provides a source for transmitting information that can become widely accepted. However, during this process of transmission, information becomes susceptible to distortion. In this study, we assessed people’s semantic (i.e., prior expectations) and recognition memory for pop-culture content, as a function of confidence and perceived information source. In Experiment 1, we investigated semantic memory for ubiquitous movie quotes (e.g., the famous Star Wars quote “Luke I am your father”). Notably this quote is incorrect, but we found that a majority of participants accepted these lure quotes as true with high confidence and indicated they experienced the original source. In Experiment 2, participants viewed the original sources before a recognition test of the quotes. We found that while there was some improvement, people still preferred the lure quote with high confidence. We discuss the findings in terms of the strength of people’s prior expectations when reconstructing events from memory.

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