Memory conformity: can eyewitnesses influence each other's memories for an event?
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The current study investigated memory conformity effects between individuals who witness and then discuss a criminal event, employing a novel procedure whereby each member of a dyad watches a different video of the same event. Each video contained unique items that were thus seen only by one witness. Dyads in one condition were encouraged to discuss the event before each witness (individually) performed a recall test, while in a control condition dyads were not allowed to discuss the event prior to recall. A significant proportion (71%) of witnesses who had discussed the event went on to mistakenly recall items acquired during the discussion. There were no age-related differences in susceptibility to these memory conformity effects in younger (18-30 years) as compared to older (60-80 years) participants. Possible social and cognitive mechanisms underlying the distortions of memory due to conformity are discussed.