False recognition in younger and older adults: Exploring the characteristics of illusory memories

Kenneth A. Norman, Daniel L. Schacter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

463 Scopus citations


Roediger and McDermott (1995) demonstrated that when subjects hear a list of associates to a 'theme word' that has itseft not been presented, they frequently claim to recollect having heard the nonpresented theme word on the study list. In Experiment 1, we found that asking subjects to explain their remember responses, by writing down exactly what they remembered about the item's presentation at study, did not significantly diminish the rate of remember false alarms to nonpresented theme words. We also found that older adults were relatively more susceptible than younger adults to this false- recognition effect. Subjects explanations suggested that both veridical and illusory memories were predominantly composed of associative information as opposed to sensory and contextual detail. In Experiment 2, we obtained quantitative evidence for this conclusion, using a paradigm in which subjects were asked focused questions about the contents of their recollective experience. Lastly, we found that both younger and older adults recalled more sensory and contextual detail in conjunction with studied items than with nonpresented theme words, although these differences were less pronounced in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-848
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'False recognition in younger and older adults: Exploring the characteristics of illusory memories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this