Retrieval-Provoked Illusory Recollections

Retrieval-Provoked Illusory Recollections

Many psychological theories assume that remembering specific details about past events reduces the frequency of systematic errors that are caused by relying on general knowledge or stereotypes. For instance, there is a common belief that stereotypes primarily influence behavior when individuals fail to recollect individuating information. In contrast to this belief, we have shown that when stereotype information is made prominent while individuals are in the process of recollecting past events, they will create subjectively compelling and yet illusory memories that are consistent with the stereotype – a phenomenon that we call retrieval-provoked illusory recollections (Dodson, Darragh, & Williams, 2008; Dodson, 2008). Theoretically, these results support the view that what we remember – even a detailed and vivid recollection – is manufactured and prone to distortion by information that is salient at the time we are in the act of remembering.