Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

The role of decision criterion in the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) false recognition memory: False memory falls and rises as a function of restriction on criterion setting

Document Type


Publication Date



How much of the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) false memory is attributable to decision criterion is so far a controversial issue. Previous studies typically used explicit warnings against accepting the critical lure to investigate this issue. The assumption is that if the false memory results from using a liberally biased criterion, it should be greatly reduced or eliminated by an explicit warning against accepting the critical lure. Results showed that warning was generally ineffective. We asked the question of whether subjects can substantially reduce false recognition without being warned when the test forces them to make a distinction between true and false memories. Using a two-alternative forced choice in which criterion plays a relatively smaller role, we showed that subjects could indeed greatly reduce the rate of false recognition. However, when the forced-choice restriction was removed from the two-item choice test, the rate of false recognition rebounded to that of the hit for studied list words, indicating the role of criterion in false recognition.

Publication Title

Quarterly journal of experimental psychology