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False memories in music listening: exploring the misinformation effect and individual difference factors in auditory memory

Anglada-Tort, Manuel; Baker, Thomas; Müllensiefen, Daniel

The study of false memory has had a profound impact on our understanding of how and what we remember, as shown by the misinformation paradigm [Loftus, E. F. (2005). Planting misinformation in the human mind: A 30-year investigation of the malleability of memory. Learning & Memory, 12(4), 361–366. doi:10.1101/lm.94705] Add to Citavi project by DOI. Though misinformation effects have been demonstrated extensively within visual tasks, they have not yet been explored in the realm of non-visual auditory stimuli. Thus, the present study aimed to investigate whether post-event information can create false memories of music listening episodes. In addition, we explored individual difference factors potentially associated with false memory susceptibility in music, including age, suggestibility, personality, and musical training. In two music recognition tasks, participants (N = 151) listened to an initial music track, which unbeknownst to them was missing an instrument. They were then presented with post-event information which either suggested the presence of the missing instrument or did not. The presence of misinformation resulted in significantly poorer performance on the music recognition tasks (d = .43), suggesting the existence of false musical memories. A random forest analysis indicated that none of the individual difference factors assessed were significantly associated with misinformation susceptibility. These findings support previous research on the fallibility of human memory and demonstrate, to some extent, the generality of the misinformation effect to a non-visual auditory domain.
Published in: Memory, 10.1080/09658211.2018.1545858, Taylor & Francis