Diagnostic Testing:  Research Article
Diagnostic Testing Menu

False Memories About Food Can Lead To Food Avoidance
Citation:   Bernstein, D.M., et al.  (2005).  False Memories About Food Can Lead To Food Avoidance.  Social Cognition. Vol.23, Iss. 1;  pg. 11.

Abstract:  In two experiments, we suggested to 336 participants that as children they had become ill after eating either hard-boiled eggs or dill pickles. Eighty-three additional control participants in Experiment 1 received no suggestion. In both experiments, participants' confidence increased in line with the suggestion. In the second experiment, we used a pretest/posttest design and found that enhanced confidence was accompanied by avoidance of the relevant food item. These results demonstrate that adults can be led to believe falsely that eating certain foods as children made them sick and that such false beliefs can have consequences. 


Ayers, M. S., & Reder, L. M. (1998). A theoretical review of the misinformation effect: Predictions from an activation-based memory model. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5,1-21.

Bensley, D. A. (2003). Can minds leave bodies? A cognitive science perspective. Skeptical Inquirer, 27, 34-39.

Bernstein, D.M., Godfrey, R., Davison, A., & Loftus, E.F. (2004). Conditions affecting the revelation effect for autobiographical memory. Memory 6" Cognition. Manuscript in press.

Bernstein, D. M., Whittlesea, B.W.A., & Loftus, E. F. (2002). Increasing confidence in remote autobiographical memory and general knowledge: Extensions of the revelation effect. Memory & Cognition, 30,432-38.

Betz, A. L., Skowronski, J. J., & Ostrom, T. M. (1996). Shared realities: Social influence and stimulus memory. Social Cognition, 14, 113-140.

Brehm, J. W. (1959). Increasing cognitive dissonance by a fait accompli. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 58, 379-382.

Cappella, J. N., Yzer, M., & Fishbein, M. (2003). Using beliefs about positive and negative consequences as the basis for designing message interventions for lowering risky behavior. In D. Romer (Ed.), Reducing adolescent risk (pp. 210-219). Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage Publications.

Collins, H. R. (2001). Another reason to dislike Chihuahuas and other small dogs: Behavioral consequences of false memories. Unpublished honors thesis, University of Washington, Seattle.

Fazio, R. H., & Zanna, M. P. (1978). On the predictive validity of attitudes: The roles of direct experience and confidence. Journal of Personality, 46, 228-243.

Fazio, R. H., Powell, M. C., & Williams, C. J. (1989). The role of attitude accessibility in the attitude-to-behavior process, journal of Consumer Research, 16, 280-288.

Garcia, J., Kimeldorf, D.}., & Koelling, R. A. (1955). Conditioned aversion to saccharin resulting from exposure to gamma radiation. Science, 122, 157-158.

Garcia, J. & Koelling, R.A. (1966). Relation of cue to consequence in avoidance learning. Psychonomic Science, 4, 123-124.

Carry, M., Manning, C., Loftus, E. F., & Sherman, S. J. (1996). Imagination inflation: Imagining a childhood event inflates confidence that it occurred. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 3, 208-214.

Goff, L.M., & Roediger, H.L (1998). Imagination inflation for action events: Repeated imaginings lead to illusory recollections. Memory & Cognition, 26, 20-33.

Greenwald, A.G. (1975). On the inconclusiveness of crucial cognitive tests of dissonance versus self-perception theories. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11, 490-499.

Holland, P.C. (1981). Acquisition of representation-mediated conditioned food aversions. Learning and Motivation, 12,1-18.

Hyman, I. E., Jr., Husband, T. H., & Billings, F. J. (1995). False memories of childhood experiences. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 9,181-197.

Kelman, H.C., & Hovland, C.I. (1953). "Reinstatement" of the communicator in delayed measurement of opinion change. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 48, 327-335.

Loftus, E.F. (2001). Imagination and its memory-making power. The Psychologist, 14, 584-587.

Loftus, E.P., & Bernstein, D.M. (2005). Rich false memories: The royal road to success. In A. Healy (Ed.), Experimental Cognitive Psychology and its Applications (pp. 101-113). Washington DC: American Psychological Association Press.

Loftus, E. F., & Ketcham, K. (1994). The Myth of Repressed Memory. NY: St. Martin's Press.

Loftus, E.F. & Mazzoni, G.A.L. (1998). Using imagination and personalized suggestion to change people. Behavior Therapy, 29, 691-706.

Loftus, E. F. & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 13, 585-589.

Loftus, E. P., & Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25, 720-725.
Manning, C. G. (2000). Imagination inflation with posttest delays: How long will it last? Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Washington.

Mazzoni, G.A.L., & Loftus, E.F (1998). Dream interpretation can change beliefs about the past. Psychotherapy, 35,177-187.

Mazzoni, G.A.L., Loftus, E.F., & Kirsch, I. (2001). Changing beliefs about implausible autobiographical events: A little plausibility goes a long way. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 7, 51-59.

Mazzoni, G., & Memon, A. (2003). Imagination can create false autobiographical memories. Psychological Science, 14,186-188.

Pickrell, J. E., Bernstein, D. M., & Loftus, E. F. (2004). The misinformation effect. In R. F. Pohl (Ed.), Cognitive illusions: A handbook on fallacies and biases in thinking, judgment and memory (pp. 345-361). HOVE, UK & NY: Psychology Press.

Pratkanis, A. R., Greewald, A. G., Leippe, M. R. & Baumgardner, M. H. (1988). In search of reliable persuasion effects: III. The sleeper effect is dead: Long live the sleeper effect. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 54, 203-218.

Siepel, T. (1997, Mar 31). Leader's health tied to deaths. San Jose Mercury News., accessed June 24, 2003.

Wade, K. A., Carry, M., Read, J. D., & Lindsay, D. S. (2002). A picture is worth a thousand lies: Using false photographs to create false childhood memories. Psychononiic Bulletin and Review, 9, 597-603.

Zimbardo, P. G., Weisenberg, M., Firestone, I., & Levy, B. (1965).Commincator effectiveness in producing public conformity and private attitude change. Journal of Personality, 33, 233-255.