Increasing confidence in remote autobiographical memory and general knowledge: Extensions of the revelation effect

Research paper by Daniel M. Bernstein, Bruce W. A. Whittlesea, Elizabeth F. Loftus

Indexed on: 01 Apr '02Published on: 01 Apr '02Published in: Memory & Cognition


In recognition tests, items presented in unusual ways (e.g., degraded, revealed in stages, or presented as anagrams) are often judged to be old more than are intact items. Thisrevelation effect has been observed only in episodic judgments about the occurrence or frequency of relatively recent events. The present work extends the boundary conditions of this effect. In three experiments, subjects unscrambled anagrams in the context of answering questions about their childhood (e.g.,broke a dwniwo playing ball) or while answering questions pertaining to world knowledge (e.g.,fastest animal—elpraod). In each case, a revelation effect was observed: Solving an anagram increased confidence in remote autobiographical memories and in memory for world facts. These results contradict claims that the effect is an episodic memory phenomenon and challenge existing explanations of the revelation effect.