Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Gary L. Wells


Participants (N = 69) were exposed to a stressful event by watching a violent videotape, and were told that certain scenes had appeared that in fact had not. People were randomly assigned to either hear a theory of memory repression or not, and then mentally rehearsed a preselected, counterbalanced group of real and fake scenes over a two-day period. Major dependent measures were reported memory characteristics for scenes and confidence that scenes had appeared in the videotape. Analyses were conducted using a subsample of witnesses (N = 48) who had no missing data on crucial measures. All conditions contained equal numbers of people. People who were exposed to a repression-and-recovery memory theory were expected to report more detailed memories and to express more confidence that they had witnessed fake scenes than people who were not exposed to such a theory. This effect was expected to be enhanced as the number of rehearsals increased. Neither prediction was confirmed. Exposure to the repression theory had no effect on confidence or memory for scenes in any condition. Rehearsal and scene type produced main effects, and interacted with each other to influence both confidence and memory for scenes. As predicted, real scenes were recalled better than fake scenes, and people were more confident that they had seen real scenes than fake scenes. Rehearsal improved memory for real scenes, but not for fake scenes. In contrast, confidence that both real and fake scenes had appeared in the videotape increased following rehearsal. The memory-theory manipulation appears to have been unsuccessful not because people were reluctant to believe in the possibility of repression per se, but because they were unconvinced that they had repressed information in this situation. People appeared to accept the suggestion that they had witnessed scenes they had not, and their confidence increased after being encouraged to rehearse the scenes a number of times, even though no improvement in memory resulted. Accepting the suggestion that hidden memories exist may be the first step toward creating false memories.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Sheila Marie Seelau



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

82 pages