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Running head: SOURCE MISATTRIBUTION OF PICTURES AND IMAGES

Source Misattribution of Pictorial Images and Descriptions Andrew Vaughn The University of Texas at Dallas

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SOURCE MISATTRIBUTION OF PICTURES AND IMAGES

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Abstract People often mistakenly credit the source of a memory to a real experience by misattributing an imagined memory to a pictorial source. To study source misattribution of visual memory, a collection of images and paragraphs visually describing images were presented to 23 participants who indicated in a recall test whether they previously saw the test images. The recall test included previous images, described images, and new images not presented prior to the test. Participants in this study also indicated the number of hours they spent reading or playing video games each week. The investigation predicted a positive correlation between hours spent reading and misattribution rate, and a negative correlation between hours spent playing videogames and misattribution rate. Results failed to indicate that source misattribution occurred, contrary to previous research, or that the number of hours spent reading or playing video games predicted participants’ source misattribution rates. Due to the prevalence of past evidence, people should consider the inaccuracies common in memory and utilize caution when basing decisions on testimonies. Keywords: source, misattribution, pictures, descriptions, reading


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Source misattribution of pictorial images and descriptions From education to daily employment, individuals rely on accurate memory performance every day. Human memory plays an especially important role in legal systems around the world. In the United States justice system, judges and juries often rely on eyewitness testimonies when deciding the guilt of the accused and the severity of punishment. When a person’s future may depend on the accuracy of somebody’s recounting of events, those involved need to understand the potential for false memories and the potential to recall secondhand information as firsthand experiences. Written passages corresponding to images aids the recall of those images in both young and old learners (Anglin, 1986). However, memory is often inaccurate and misrepresents the conditions and events under which it formed. When asked to determine the source of a memory, people often misattribute the source of an imagined memory to a visual one and entirely fake memories can be implanted without much trouble (Loftus & Pickrell, 1995). When shown images of objects and tasked with generating descriptions of objects presented as words, participants recalled seeing pictures of the objects they described significantly more than new objects (Foley, Bays, Foy, & Woodfield, 2015). A similar effect occurs when presented with images and descriptions of objects; participants report seeing an image or scene of which they only read a description (Intraub & Hoffman, 1992). After viewing descriptive paragraphs, some with corresponding images, people falsely recalled seeing the accompanying image when not presented. Later, when asked to freely recall images they saw participants described images that were not shown before (Johnson & Raye, 1981). Both generative processes and directed processes of imagining objects and scenes seem to offer compelling false visual memories.


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When asked to indicate images they have seen previously, participants will be more likely to indicate images they have only read descriptions of than new images. People who read more often may be more susceptible to this effect. Participants who play more video games may be less susceptible than frequent readers due to more reliance in recalling visual information while playing video games. No previous literature included examinations of either of these effects. This study aims to further examine the source misattribution effect that other studies demonstrated, as well as investigate whether participants’ choice of leisure activity correlates to source misattribution and in what way.


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Method Participants Forty-two participants submitted complete responses to be used in the study. One participant did not agree to let his or her response be recorded after the debriefing and another 18 responses were not completed with no responses during the testing phase. In total, 24 responses contained sufficient information for use in the study (see Table 1 for demographics). Table 1 Participant Demographics Demographic

n

M

SD

Video Games

11

14.45

12.94

Reading

17

6.94

5.31

Both Reading and Video Games

9

Neither Activity

5

Age

24

28

13

Female

12

Male

9

Gender not specified

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Note. n represents the number of participants who answered each demographic question. Video Games and Reading are measured in hours per week spent on that activity. Materials The investigation uses a total of thirty images (see Appendix A). Ten images (See Appendix B) and 10 descriptions (see Appendix C) were presented during the encoding stage.


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Five of the images shown during the encoding stage of the study and 6 of the images described in the encoding stage appeared in the recall test along with ten new images not presented nor described during the encoding phase. All images used were stock photos available for free use and the descriptions were written for the study. Procedure Participants were presented with a series of descriptions and images and instructed to think about how each stimulus relates to personal experiences in their life. The participants then completed a ten-question survey measuring their self-esteem. Next, the participants were presented with the recall test. Individual images were shown, and participants indicated whether they thought each image was shown previously in the study. Results consisted of comparing the percentage of test images recalled by participants to the total number of test images for each of the three categories (correctly recalled images or false recall of described or new images). The percentage for false recall of described images gives the misattribution rate. Misattribution rate was correlated with the number of hours participants spent either playing video games or reading.


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Results In the current experiment, H1 hypothesized participants would falsely recall seeing a described image more often than a new image. A 1-way analysis of variance test showed a statistically significant difference between the percentage of test images in each encoding condition that participants reported seeing previously (images shown and not described, images described and not shown, and images not shown or described; see Figure 1). Contrary to the hypothesis, participants showed lower false recall rates for described images (n = 24, M = 0.17, SD = 0.29) than for new images (n = 24, M = 0.84, SD = 0.29), F(2, 46) = 52.416, MSE = 0.77, p

Proportion Test Images recalled

< 0.001. 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00 Shown

Described Encoding Condition

New

Figure 1. Mean number of test images participants recalled seeing previously. Shown images were visually presented during the encoding phase but not described. Described images were presented as descriptive paragraphs during the encoding phase but not presented visually. New images were not presented at all during the encoding phase. H2A hypothesized that participants who reported spending more time reading would have higher misattribution rates for described images than those who reported less time reading. There was a non-significant negative correlation between hours reading (n = 17, M = 6.94, SD = 5.47)


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and misattribution rate (n = 24, M = 0.17, SD = 0.29); r(16) = -0.289, p = 0.66 (see Figure 2). H2B hypothesized that participants reporting more time playing video games would have lower misattribution rates. There was a non-significant negative correlation between hours playing video games (n = 11, M = 14.45, SD = 13.57) and misattribution rate; (r(10) = -0.114, p = 0.39;

Missatribution Rate

see Figure 2). 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00

Reading Video Games Linear (Reading) Linear (Video Games)

0

5

10

15 20 25 Hours/week of activity

30

35

Figure 2. Hours per week participants reported reading or playing video games and misattribution rate of described images during the recall test.

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Discussion This study aimed to further investigate the source misattribution effect by observing two factors previously unexplored: the number of hours each week that participants spent reading or playing video games. Ratios for each encoding condition were computed by the number of images from that condition participants recalled seeing divided the total number of images from that condition presented in the recall test. The Source misattribution rate was the ratio of the number of described images participants recalled seeing pictures of during the encoding phase to the total number of described images presented during the recall test. The misattribution rate being lower than ratio associated with new images indicated an absence of the source misattribution effect. To study the influence of activities, the investigation compares the number of hours of reading and gaming each participant reported to that participantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s misattribution rate. Contrary to the first hypothesis (H1), participants were much more likely to indicate seeing a new image than one that was described, suggesting source misattribution did not play a significant role in false recall in this study. Fifteen of the 24 participants correctly indicated not seeing any of the test images corresponding to the paragraphs presented in the pre-test portion of the study and only one participant indicated seeing all described images. These results contrast the findings of both Foley et al (2015) and Intraub and Hoffman (1992). Surprisingly, participants recalled recognizing brand-new images almost as often as images shown previously, possibly indicating that the descriptions of images assisted in differentiating between shown images and described images. The second hypothesis (H2A) predicted a positive correlation between the number of hours participants spent reading and their misattribution rates. Instead, these data showed a nonsignificant negative correlation. The negative relation may appear if avid readers encode and


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recall written information more accurately. H2B predicted a negative correlation between the number of hours spent playing video games and source misattribution. Participants who reported playing video games also showed a negative but non-significant correlation between hours playing and source misattribution. The presence of a negative relationship between both forms of activity and misattribution rate may suggest that both visual and linguistic factors influence the way participants keep track of the source of memories. One limitation of this investigation is the length of the survey and number of items presented to participants. The descriptions themselves may not have adequately matched their corresponding pictures, giving participants insufficient or inaccurate visual representations of the scene. Additionally, none of the test images used both visual and descriptive presentation. The self-esteem survey, which was used as a distractor, took little time to complete and may not have provided enough time for participants to forget or confuse the source of a memory. Like the effect of reading, any effects from playing video games may be smaller. This investigation primarily observed college students who may report high weekly reading hours due to reading textbooks rather than novels. Additionally, the low misattribution rate observed in this study possibly contributed to a smaller measured effect of hours spent reading or playing video games. This study found no significant evidence of source misattribution, but instead found participants more likely to recall seeing an entirely new image opposed to one described to them. Neither reading nor playing video games significantly correlated to misattribution rate in participants. However, both showed a small negative relationship. The way in which people experience inaccuracies in source monitoring brings the validity of firsthand accounts into question. Police reports, investigations, and interviews all rely on eyewitness testimony. When asked to identify a suspect in a photospread, people who falsely identify somebody as the suspect


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and receive positive feedback become more confident in their memory (Wells & Bradfield, 1998). Judges in the U.S. often correlate eyewitness confidence with accuracy of reports, making convictions based heavily on eyewitness testimonies (Wise & Safer, 2004). According to Wise and Safer (2004), increased knowledge about source misattribution and monitoring among the judges correlated to more expert testimonies and less reliance on eyewitness testimony. Further investigation could show whether any difference exists between people who exclusively partake in either reading or playing video games. Another possibly interesting condition not investigated by this study might be the primary genre the participant engages in. Although much research has supported the existence the source misattribution effect, there are still unexplored factors that may play a role in reducing or increasing the frequency and degree with which they occur.


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References Anglin, G. J. (1986). Prose-relevant pictures and older learners' recall of written prose. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 63(3), 131-136. doi:10.2466/pms.1986.63.3.1143 Foley, M. A., Bays, R. B., Foy, J., & Woodfield, M. (2015). Source misattributions and false recognition errors: Examining the role of perceptual resemblance and imagery generation processes. Memory, 23(5), 714-735. doi:10.1080/09658211.2014.925565 Intraub, H., & Hoffman, J. E. (1992). Reading and visual memory: remembering scenes that were never seen. The American Journal of Psychology, 105, 101-114. doi:10.2307/1422983 Johnson, M. K., & Raye, C. L. (1981). Reality monitoring. Psychological Review, 88, 67-85. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.88.1.67 Loftus, E. F., & Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25(12), 720-725. doi:10.3928/0048-5713-19951201-07 Wells, G. L., & Bradfield, A. L. (1998). "Good, you identified the suspect": Feedback to eyewitnesses distorts their reports of the witnessing experience. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(3), 360-376. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.83.3.360 Wise, R. A., & Safer, A. M. (2004). What US judges know and believe about eyewitness testimony. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18(4), 427-443. doi:10.1002/acp.993


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Appendix A Encoded Images

1

7

30

14

46

60

65

63

67

70


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Appendix B Test Images

2

4

6

7

19

17

14

11

21

23

25

29

30

33

39

42

45

46

47

50

54

57

66

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Appendix C Image Descriptions The bald eagle skims over the grey, rippled surface, a spray of water falling from a fish caught in its talons. Its left wing almost dips into the water as the eagle banks away from the camera, its white head looking forward. A jagged, distorted reflection of the eagle skims below, flying down towards the grey, cloudy sky beneath the turbulent water.

Curiosity tugs the cat's head to the side. Their grey ears point to the left side of the image as they gaze at the camera from the depths of an open box. The dark grey fur on the cat's back fades into the unlit bottom of the box, while their white underbelly and face pridefully stand out. Its large pupils, ringed in soft, green irises, focus on the camera. Long white whiskers extend from a small nose with a warm brown smudge above the cat's mouth.

A small village rests nestled in a valley, surrounded by the dense green of gentle, tree covered mountains. In the distance, perched on a hill, is a church. It's beige walls supporting a steep roof and pointed bell tower. Several large buildings step down the slope, their white walls and red roofs disappearing behind a bright tree line. Two houses sit close by, on the opposite shore of a small pond from the camera. The one on the right features dark solar panels on its steep roof and a small red tree in front of it.

A man seems to float, belly down, above a city skyline. The people on the pier behind him watching as he dives toward the water below. He wears only a pair of black shorts and raises his outspread arms above his back like the wings of a bird. The skyscrapers behind him shine a light blue in the overcast light, contrasting a bright red suspension bridge over the water.

Dressed in bright yellow, the mountain biker hangs in the air. He looks down towards a natural brown ramp, a likely spot to land. The steps of dirt and dry grass behind and below him, more dirt and dry grass extending out to the horizon to meet a blanket of clouds. He confidently holds his bike below him, positioned as a buffer between himself and the cruel dirt he races toward, ready to absorb the impact in his bent legs.


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A man clings to a gray, sloping cliff face. He pushes upwards, digging his feet into the speckled stone beneath him. Green grass and sparse pine trees grow on the rocky mountains behind him. Only a small patch of bright sky is visible above the climber, where the cliff ascends past the distant mountain slope.

A bald eagle perches in front of the camera. It stands out in stark contrast to the blurry tree behind it, screeching at something unseen, off to the left of the image. The eagles fierce eye focused on its target. Its hooked beak hangs open, its dark brown wings hug the sides of its body.

The fiery sun hangs low above the horizon, casting a bright, white glow across the pale, orange sky. A skater holds a handstand on the edge of a bowl, using his other hand to hold the board to his feet. While his arm touches the edge, the rest of his body hangs out over empty space, ready to fall back down rotating and extending his legs, with the board, back onto the concrete surface. Hints of the golden sun reflect off the concrete and the skater.

Vibrant green grass overtakes rings of rough round rocks, encircling a pile of jagged stones. The land beyond gently cups the low hanging orb of orange light in the sky, guarding the entrance to this field with a tower of stony cliffs on the right. More grass grows on the ledges, carpeting the natural steps leading upward toward a swirling body of clouds and the still blue sky.

A woman gazes passively off camera. Her face framed by a round chin and long brown hair. A large pair of glasses encircles her distant eyes, thin frames resting lightly on her nose. She wears a short sleeve shirt, buttoned up to her neck, black with a white grid. Painted plants grow up the walls of a building behind her, flat imitations of what lies beneath them.

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Source Misattribution of Pictorial Images and Descriptions  

This is a study a classmate and I designed and conducted for our Experimental Projects in Cognitive Science course at UTD.

Source Misattribution of Pictorial Images and Descriptions  

This is a study a classmate and I designed and conducted for our Experimental Projects in Cognitive Science course at UTD.

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