Memory Consistency for Sexual Assault Events

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

People often report experiencing trauma events that they previously failed to remember or report. Research on this amplification effect has typically examined memory reports for large-scale shared events that are often discussed widely in the community, potentially exposing victims to postevent information. This postevent information may have distorted their trauma memory, leading them to falsely remember experiencing events that they did not experience. Here, we examined whether personal, often unreported trauma events also amplify over time. Participants reported their sexual assault experiences at 2 time points, 6 months apart. Participants reported fewer events over time; that is, memory for sexual assault did not amplify. However, the number of amplification errors that participants made was positively related to exposure to media reports about the trauma; postevent information contained in these reports could have promoted memory errors. Amplification errors were also positively related to symptomatology. It is possible people reappraised traumatic events they initially considered to be of low impact as significant to justify emerging or continuing distress.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

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