In a study where participants were asked to create images for words to ease remembrance, researchers discovered mental imagery as an effective way to avoid false memories and improve memory.
Ms Merrin Oliver, the study’s first author, relates false memories to misremembering the source:
“We aren’t good at judging the source of our memories.
These lists usually remind people of a word that they didn’t actually study, so they mistakenly recollect studying words similar to those on the list.”
As published in The Journal of General Psychology; Ms Oliver reports the results:
“Creating images improved participants’ memories and helped them commit fewer errors, regardless of what kind of list we gave them.”
“Our study suggests more detailed imagery instructions are necessary to help filter out false memories during a recognition test, where false memories are typically very high.
People should create detailed images with unique characteristics to help avoid the endorsement of false memories on recognition-based tests like true/false or multiple-choice assessments, where you are tempted by lures and possible false memories.”