False memory for perceptually similar but conceptually distinct line drawings

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Description: Whereas most false memory effects for pictorial material are thought to be based on semantic or conceptual similarity, some findings, based on novel visual material, have been attributed solely to perceptual similarity. However, alternative accounts of these perceptual effects in terms of associative and/or conceptual processes have been proposed. We report four experiments that address these points of criticism, using pairs of perceptually similar but conceptually distinct line drawings of objects (e.g., banana -- crescent). Similar lures were judged old more often than unrelated items, and confidence for false alarms was greater for similar lures than for unrelated items. This perceptual false memory effect was not modulated by rotation of stimuli between study and test, was unaffected by retention interval (0 vs. 20 min), and was obtained regardless of response format (old/new and old/similar/new). These findings rule out the criticism of previous perceptual false memory effects and more conclusively demonstrate false memory on the basis of perceptual similarity.

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