Misleading Information Can Alter Memory: Warning Individuals Can Reduce Memory Errors
Exposure to even subtle forms of misleading information can significantly alter memory for past events, according to recent research. However, warning individuals about a threat of misinformation reduces susceptibility to misinformation errors, researchers find.
In a study, participants watched a silent video depicting a crime (original event) and were given an initial test of memory for the crime details. Participants then listened to an auditory narrative describing the crime in which some original details were altered (misinformation).
According to the results, participants who received a warning about the reliability of the auditory narrative — either before or after exposure to misinformation — demonstrated less susceptibility to misinformation on a final test of memory compared to unwarned participants. Researchers concluded that a simple warning can modulate reconstructive processes during memory retrieval and reduce memory errors due to misinformation.
Pharmacists, as one of the most trusted health care providers, can offer advice on how their clients can interpret the world around them. They also can dispel misleading information that may be circulating about medication use and other health care issues.