When recollection is difficult, people may use schematic processing to enhance memory. Two experiments showed that a delay between witnessing and recalling a visual sequence increases schematic processing, resulting in stereotypic memory errors. Participants watched a slide show of a man and a woman performing stereotype-consistent and stereotype-inconsistent actions, followed by an immediate or delayed memory test. Over a two-day delay, stereotype-inconsistent actions were increasingly misremembered as having been performed by the stereotype-consistent actor (Experiment 1). All the source errors increased, regardless of stereotype consistency, when the wrong actor was suggested. When we merely suggested that 'someone' performed an action (Experiment 2), only stereotype-consistent source errors were increased. Although visual scenes are typically well remembered, these results suggest that when memory fades, reliance on schemata increases, leading to increased stereotypic memory errors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)