The effect of schematic events and post-event information in the misinformation paradigm

Author: Peta Skujins

Skujins, Peta, 2018 The effect of schematic events and post-event information in the misinformation paradigm, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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The current thesis examined the effect of schematic events within the misinformation paradigm. Previous research has shown inconsistent findings when examining schematic misinformation, with typical compared with atypical post-event information found to create a larger effect (e.g. Maras & Bowler, 2011), a smaller effect (e.g. Nemeth & Belli, 2006), or no difference (e.g. Hekkanen & McEvoy, 2005) in a misinformation paradigm. The use of initial (prior to post-event information) and final (after post-event information) memory tests allowed a comparison of memory reports to determine how the memory changed due to the post-event information. Additionally, the relationship that the initial memory had with conforming answers was examined.

Study 1 used schematic misinformation to determine the interaction between the event item and misinformation on the final memory report. It was shown that typical compared with atypical film items resulted in higher initial accuracy, however there was no effect of either the film or post-event information schemas on conforming answers. Due to several issues with the stimuli, and ceiling effects of initial accuracy and confidence, limited conclusions were drawn from this study.

Specific stimuli were created for the purpose of a schematic misinformation paradigm, so that items were counterbalanced as occurring during the film and post-event narrative. The new stimulus set overcame several of the problems found in Study 1, including reducing initial accuracy and confidence, increasing conforming answers, and the counterbalancing of items. These stimuli were used in Studies 2, 3, and 4.

Study 2 focused on the effect of schematic film items and post-event information on conforming answer; a similar method as Study 1 was used. Initial accuracy and confidence both affected conforming answers, with accurate and highly confident items less likely to become conforming answers than inaccurate and less confident initial items. The film and misinformation schemas interacted in their effect on conforming answers, with a higher proportion of conforming answers for typical post-event information to a typical film item, compared with any other combination of typical and atypical film and post-event information items. Additionally, there was a trend towards a higher proportion of conforming answers for correct post-event information compared with misinformation when both were presented to an inaccurate initial item. Findings are discussed with reference to recall and recognition memory, and the discrepancy detection hypothesis.

A comparison between initial recognition and recall questionnaires was conducted in Study 3, which showed that the initial questionnaire condition did not affect conforming answers, and did not interact with the post-event information and initial accuracy variable. The initial questionnaire type did however interact with the film schema on initial accuracy, with greater accuracy for typical items in the cued-recall condition, and for atypical items in the multiple-choice recognition condition. Recognition in the initial questionnaire did not reduce the effect of correct post-event information on conforming answers.

Discrepancy detection was examined in Study 4, with participants completing a final questionnaire about either the film or narrative, and later asked to report any discrepancies they detected. Participants detected more discrepancies when their initial memory was accurate and highly confident, and gave more conforming answers when a discrepancy was detected. Additionally, participants who reported using the wrong source to answer the final questionnaire reported more conforming answers.

The effect of schemas on the initial memory and conforming answers are discussed in relation to the differing findings of the literature. Specific focus is given to the effects of discrepancy detection within a schematic misinformation paradigm.

Keywords: Misinformation, Memory, Misinformation effect, Post-event information

Subject: Psychology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Paul Williamson