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The role of self esteem in the misinformation effect

Saunders, Jo (2012) The role of self esteem in the misinformation effect. Memory, 20 (2). pp. 90-99.

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Previous research using the Gudjonnson suggestibility scale has suggested a role for self-esteem in suggestibility, with participants low in self-esteem being more suggestible than participants high in self-esteem. Four experiments are presented examining the role of self-esteem in the misinformation effect and whether enhanced suggestibility effects in participants low in self-esteem reflect genuine memory impairment. In Experiments 1 and 4 participants completed a standard recognition test. In Experiment 2 participants completed the modified recognition test. In Experiment 3 participants completed a free recall test. In Experiments 1 and 4 participants low in self-esteem demonstrated greater misinformation effects than participants high in self-esteem. In Experiment 3 a 3-day retention interval was employed with the modified test and no differences were found between the two groups on the reporting of the new item. The findings suggest that participants low in self-esteem are particularly sensitive to demand characteristics and post-event suggestion but do not suffer from genuine memory impairment.