Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Matthew Reysen

Second Advisor

Nicolaas Prins

Third Advisor

Jeffery Bednark

Relational Format



The various levels of processing are critical to understanding memory formation and retention. There is ample research on the levels of processing and their effects on true recall. Yet, there is still a limited understanding on which types of processing have the greatest impact on false memory formation. The purpose of this present study is to provide an investigation into how a particular deep processing task, story processing, influences both true recall and false memory recall rates. More specifically, we sought to determine whether a story processing condition leads to an increase in false memory rates when compared to two other conditions, survival and pleasantness. Participants were given one of three conditions and a corresponding set of instructions and then were asked to rate the words with respect to those instructions. Next, they completed a brief distractor test consisting of addition and subtraction and then were surprised with a free recall test for the words on the screen. This current study found that there was a statistically significant increase in the false recall rate as a function of the instructional condition. As predicted, those given the story processing condition falsely recalled more critical items than did participants in the pleasantness condition. While the study was rather limited in power, the results do support the idea that deeper levels of processing can increase false memory rates.

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