Friday, September 6, 2019

After stating opinions on political issues, some responses were manipulated to indicate an opposite position; this created a false memory of a past attitude which people used when generating future responses on political statements

False Memories Resulting from a Choice Blindness Task Shapes Future Political Attitudes. David Bengtegård. Master’s thesis in Cognitive Science, Department of Philosophy, Lund University, Jun 6 2019.

In many attitude theories, it is commonly assumed that what we believe in is partly based on our own past actions, and that these actions shape our present opinion towards an issue. This suggests that how one remembers and represents past decisions could have an instigating role in establishing future attitudes. However, the way attitudes change over time has generally been explained by either self-perception processes or from resolving internal motivational conflicts. The aim of this thesis is to go beyond this conception of attitude change and explore an alternative explanation: that attitudes are liable to the dynamics and processes of memory. To do this, participants stated their opinions on political issues, and the Choice Blindness Paradigm was used to manipulate some of their previous responses to indicate an opposite position. Participants were then asked to remember their previous responses together with their current opinion on the issue directly after the manipulation and one day later to investigate how memories of past attitudes are influenced when accepting the false feed-back. Specifically, to test whether the choice blindness manipulation creates a false memory of a past attitude which participants’ uses when generating their future response on a political statement. The result showed that participants’ memory responses were strongly influenced by the manipulation and moved in direction of the false feedback, both directly following the manipulation as well as one day later. This effect was also found for attitude responses in which participants exhibited lasting shifts in attitudes. Additionally, the memory of past attitudes was a significant predictor for later attitude shifts and explained a large portion of variance in attitude change. These findings provide evidence that attitude change as well as choice blindness may result from memory mechanisms. And helps to understand how environmental forces and memory processes can interact in shaping future attitudes.

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