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The Role of Negative Emotion on Suggestibility Using the Misinformation Paradigm

Shah, D. (2023). The Role of Negative Emotion on Suggestibility Using the Misinformation Paradigm. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigates the influence of negative emotion on suggestibility within the misinformation paradigm. Existing research has indicated that negative events, especially those high in arousal, are more susceptible to misleading information compared to neutral events. However, several gaps in our understanding of this phenomenon remain. This thesis includes six experiments that use the three-stage misinformation paradigm to examine the effects of limited attention, post-warnings, and retention interval on individuals' susceptibility to post event misleading information. These factors have previously been studied in relation to misleading information but have received limited exploration in the context of negative emotion. Experiments 1-3 examined the role of attention during event encoding. The interaction between attention, misinformation, and picture valence was found only in Experiment 3 after changing the type of recognition test used in Experiments 1 and 2. In Experiment 3, the reduced attention at encoding did not increase misinformation susceptibility or decrease misinformation resistance for the negatively arousing picture and, surprisingly, the neutral picture, but did so for the negative low-arousing picture. Experiments 4 and 5 investigated the impact of different misinformation post-warnings. Interestingly, there was no effect of post-warnings, compared to no warning, for the negatively arousing picture. However, for the neutral picture, the enlightenment and item-specific warnings (although not a simple warning), reduced the endorsement of misinformation and increased misinformation resistance. This was only found when the warning stated the definite exposure (Expt. 5), rather than the possible exposure (Expt. 4), to prior misinformation. Finally, Experiment 6 investigated the retention interval between misinformation and test. The misinformation effect persisted over one week for the negatively arousing picture, but for the negative low-arousing and neutral pictures, the effect of misinformation at immediate testing disappeared after a delay. These findings were obtained regardless of whether picture details were categorized as central or peripheral, suggesting, at least in these presented findings, that memory effects were not specific to certain details. The main findings of this thesis are discussed in relation to the adaptive function of emotion, differential encoding processes, and source monitoring and activation-based theories. Overall, this thesis demonstrates the detrimental impact of misinformation on memory for negative events and emphasises the significance of these findings in forensic settings where the reliability of eyewitness testimony is paramount.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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