Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

This essay may contain factual inaccuracies or out of date material. Please refer to an authoritative source if you require up-to-date information on any health or medical issue.

Initiating False Memory by DRM Paradigm

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 2480 words Published: 18th May 2020

Reference this


False memory can happen to any adult of any age. The DRM paradigm is a procedure to study false memory. Some researchers argue that DRM phantasm are based on the activation of the semantic memory grid in the brain. However, researchers consider that the semantic gist that initiates false memory errors may be useful in some scenarios. DRM study could be associated with real-world implementation such that false memory leads to false acquisitions. This implementation affects people’s judgments on different inducements, such as in court cases. In this study, 20 college students completed a DRM cognitive paradigm to examine false memory in a laboratory setting. The findings support that participants reported the in-list words more than the regular distractors.

Initiating False Memory by DRM Paradigm

          The DRM is a procedure of initiating false memories done by Deese, Roediger, and McDermott by giving participants a list of closely related words, then ask them whether a specific prototype was listed among the in-list words. However, this prototype was not shown. As an example, seeing words like drive, seatbelt, highway, fast, speed limit, and motor will influence the participant to recall the word “car” even though it was not presented. Psychologists today study the procedure to focus on the nature of memory to determine how factors like sex, sleep, mood, age, and personal history influence memory. Some research suggests that men and women are equally likely to initiate false memories.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

        DRM creates a proportion of false memory in each individual differently. Some research explains that the semantic gist and reconstruction theory is the cause of false memory. The memory of semantic gist is when someone remembers the key points, but not the specific details of the material. Reconstruction theory states that individuals try to remember something and start to make assumptions to fill in the gap in their memory.  Assumptions could be remembering another memory that is related, to connect the memories.

       The semantic lists in the DRM trigger imagery and force assumptions to categorize every list. Even though different activation mechanisms may drive the false memory, effects generated by phonological and semantic lists. However, this does not certainly mean that two distinct activation mechanisms also modulate that the memory distinguishes semantic and phonological records. (Tse, Li, & Neil, 2011) Meanwhile, the findings from previous studies seem to suggest that two distinct activation mechanisms may drive phonological and semantic false memory effects. The mechanisms are knowing and remembering the exact words listed, and the other is building judgmental assumptions about the words trying to memorize them. 

      Although the notion of false memories is currently witnessing an increase in exposure, it is not new; psychologists have been studying false memory in different laboratory paradigms for a very long time. DRM materials proved to be full of meaning, as semantic properties comprehend it. Variability in false recall could be associated by false recognition and backward associative strength loaded on a single semantic factor. This false recall could be the reason of familiarity and meaningfulness. Creating assumptions, as well as suppositions, lead to a false recall. On the other hand, variability in an accurate recall is loaded entirely on a different factor. A reliable recall could be built upon imaginary and materialistic. The participant’s cognitive ability determines the variability of whether false recall or accurate recall.

     When it comes to explaining the DRM illusion, two aspects of the semantic analysis are of particular significance. First, the paradigm’s semantic profile, which consists of observed values of three sets of variables that shows that the DRM materials are dense with distractor–target meaning connections, as well as target meaning connections. The other aspect of the semantic analysis that is significant for the DRM illusion is the ability of semantic variables to explain inter list variability in the illusion. Within the context of high baseline false memory, inter list variability in false recall and false recognition were both tied to variability in these semantic dimensions. (Brainerd, Yang, Reyna, Howe, &Mills, 2008)  

       Some research suggests that children do not fall for DRM illusion. In an experiment done found that children in second grade did not recall any words that were not on the list. The amount of false recall and recognition increased with age. Even though the words were semantically related just like the adults did, the kids did not fall for it. These findings show that adults have a higher and faster rate of making assumptions and initiating false memory when recalling a list of words due to the process in which the adults use to recall memory. Fuzzy trace theory states that as humans, we have two memory trace systems. One system is used by children when it is the verbatim system, while adults use gist. (Metzger, Warren, Shelton, Price, Reed, & Williams, 2008).

          The DRM task has been an essential tool to probe the neurocognitive basis of the reconstructive nature of memory, nevertheless of the ongoing debate about how appropriate and relevant it is in the study of autobiographical false memories. The general scheme associated with an item being retrieved from memory could activate other objects in memory that share the same scheme and could lead to the retrieval of the related but inaccurate item. With this paradigm, it is possible to investigate the distribution of critical lures throughout the experiment and to determine the best explanation for some trials that did not occur false memory in it. In this study, a DRM will examine the effect of conditions of distraction on recognition memory. The in-list words are hypothesized to be significantly more than the regular distractor, while the special distractors are substantially more than the regular distractor, but the in-list words should show no significant difference compared to special distractors. 



        A sample of 20 college students completed the study. Only data from participants who were able to access the website and answer all questions were included in the analysis. All participants were tested individually. There were 15 females (75%) and five males (5%). The minimum age of a participant was 19, and the maximum age was 43 (Table 1). The mean of the participants’ age was 26.10 years old, and the standard deviation was 6.31.


      Participants used a web version of the DRM test online. The test had six lists of words, and there were 15 questions per list. The total of the words shown was 90. The words were displayed one at a time in white color. The background of the words was black, and all the words were centered on the screen.  


        Participants used their computers to access the website of the test. Participants were required to visualize words in every list then select the memorized words from each list separately. After viewing 15 words per list, another list will pop up, and the participants chose the words that they remember from the previous list. After finishing the six lists, their data were represented immediately on the screen. Then participants sent their data via email to get it gathered and analyzed via SPSS.


          The results of the omnibus repeated measures ANOVA test show that there was a significant effect of the types of distractions on false memory, F(2, 202) = 120.40, p <.001, η2 = 0.54.  Follow-up pairwise comparisons using repeated measures t tests show that people recognized the in-list words more than the regular distractor (M = 9.52, SD = 23.21), t(101) = -24.76, p < .001, d = -2.45. It also showed that people recognized significantly less regular distractors than special distractors (M = 62.75, SD = 48.59), t(101) = -10.70, p < .001, d = -1.06. The comparison also showed that people significantly recognized less special distractors than in-list words (M = 73.16, SD = 19.38), t(101) = 2.02, p < .05, d = 0.20.


         The in-list words are hypothesized to be significantly more than the regular distractor, while the special distractors are significantly more than the regular distractor, but the in-list words should show no significant difference compared to special distractors. The main findings supported the hypotheses except that there was a significantly higher recognition of the in-list words over the special distractors.

         In order to do a follow up pairwise comparisons, we did a series of three repeated-measures t-tests. The results show that the in-list words were significantly recognized the most. It also indicates that the regular distractor was significantly recognized the least among the three types of words (Figure 1). The first pairwise comparison was between regular distractors and the words in-list. This comparison showed that people recognized the in-list words more than regular distractor. This issuance happened because the regular distractor is words that were not presented, but they were not semantically associated with the in-list words. The second pairwise comparison was between regular distractors and special distractors. This comparison showed that people recognized significantly more special distractors than regular distractors. This issuance happened because the special distractors are semantically associated with the in-list words, which means that they share similar underline conception meaning. The third comparison was between in-list and special distractor. This comparison showed that participants significantly recognized more in-list words than special distractors (Figure 2). Even though it is contradicting with the hypothesis on the web page of the paradigm, it still makes sense because participants tend to remember more words that were presented.

       Some potential limitations to the study are that the research cannot be generalized to the whole population, for the elderly as an example. Elderly tend to develop slower cognition performances due to age, which will affect the independent variables of the study. Elderly could have a significant falser recall of the in-list words, which leads to more recall of the special distractors. Another limitation could be the timing of the study such that some participants could be expended after a long day, knowing that this study requires a high perception ability. An important limitation to this study is gender, such that this study was conducted by 75 percent of female participant, which cannot be help applying the results to both genders. Meanwhile, some future directions for the research are that it could be done with a larger sample size to compare results to a relatively small sample size. Another future direction is that another paradigm could be used to test if the same results will occur.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

      In conclusion, a word list recall paradigm was used to test recognition and initiating false memory. Participants read a list of words and were asked to recall as many as possible. Within each list, there was a critical lure, a word that was not presented, which was associated with other words in the list. Participants are then given a recognition test in the form of a list that has some in-list words along with the critical lure word and other regular distractors. This paradigm is widely used today in false memory research and cognitive psychology. 


  • Brainerd, C., Yang, J., Reyna, Y., Howe, V., & Mills, F. (2008). Semantic processing in “associative” false memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15(6), 1035-1053.
  • Metzger, R. L., Warren, A. R., Shelton, J. T., Price, J., Reed, A. W., & Williams, D. (2008). Do children “DRM” like adults? False memory production in children. Developmental Psychology44(1),               169–181.
  • Tse, Li, & Neill. (2011). Dissociative effects of phonological vs. semantic associates on recognition memory in the Deese/Roediger–McDermott paradigm. Acta Psychologica, 137(3), 269-279.

Row Labels

Count of ID

Sum of Age







Grand Total



Table 1. The Demographic Age of Participants

Figure 1. The mean values of different types of words in the DRM results.

Figure 2. The number of recognized words after six trials for each participant,

showing the three types of words in the DRM.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: