False memory for pictorial scripted material: the role of distinctiveness and negative emotion

Emotional content has complex effects on false memory. Under certain circumstances, emotional material may reduce the likelihood of false memory, a phenomenon that some consider related to it being more distinctive than neutral stimuli. In the present study we tested inferential false memory related to emotionally neutral or negative, and distinctive (but not emotionally charged) scripted material. Remember/familiar judgements were required for recognised stimuli. Data were analysed using mixed-effects multinomial regressions and a Bayesian inferential approach. Results obtained with 82 adult participants showed that, compared with neutral material: distinctive material reduced their false memory associated with “remember” and “familiar” judgements, virtually to the same extent; negatively-charged material reduced false memory associated with “remember” judgements but it had no effect on false memory associated with “familiar” judgements. In short, negatively-charged and distinctive material seems to affect false memory in different ways: the latter affects both recollection and familiarity, the former only recollection.