False Memory Phenomenon under Different Symbolic Forms: A Pilot Investigation

False Memory Phenomenon under Different Symbolic Forms: A Pilot Investigation

Silvana Paratori (University of Keele, UK)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/ijabe.2012070101
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Abstract

Over time, researchers have identified the ‘false memory phenomenon’ by which individuals remember events that never occurred (i.e., the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm). It is argued that this phenomenon is more common when individuals face stressing conditions. The objective of this article is to report the findings of a pilot investigation that was designed to determine whether ‘false memory phenomenon’ is less frequent in individuals who are exposed to pictorial representations. The aim is to use this pilot analysis as a methodological basis to investigate future developments whether the ‘false memory phenomenon’ is also less frequent in individuals who are exposed to advertising presented as pictorial representations.
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1. Introduction

The economy in most of the countries is characterised by the existence of firms competing for their goods. In order to attract consumers, firms try to gain recognition by means of publicity. As a consequence, consumers are exposed to a large amount of advertisements and information. This is particularly important at present where information flows at a high speed as a consequence of globalization and the availability of computational networks such as internet (Zettelmeyer, 2000; Neslin et al., 2006; Neslin & Shankar, 2009).

A negative consequence of this paradigm is that consumers might not correctly interpret the information provided by the large amount of advertisements offered by firms, in particular under the typical stressing conditions associated with competitive economies. In this respect, Psychological Science has identified an important phenomenon that could affect consumers’ capacity to interpret relevant information in these stressing conditions. This phenomenon, referred to as ‘false memory’, corresponds to the observable fact that people remember events that have never happened (Roediger et al., 1998; Johansson & Stenberg, 2002; Neuschatz et al., 2003; Graham, 2007). The existence of this phenomenon in the market place could potentially cause undesirable behavioral deviations by consumers such as remembering characteristics of a certain product that they actually never saw advertised. This could also be an important issue in markets characterized by monopolistic competition in which consumers value taste for variety (Benassy, 1996). This concept was introduced by Spence (1976) and Dixit and Stiglitz (1977) with the purpose of describing firms’ incentives to differentiate their products (e.g., by means of advertising or other physical characteristics) in order to satisfy consumers’ taste for variety. This differentiation, in turn, is associated with a significant amount of information that firms release with the purpose of gaining recognition in the market (for a related discussion, see Becker & Murphy, 1993; Anderson & Coate, 2005). Therefore, if false memory phenomenon is really present when firms use advertising, then it is expected to find a more frequent incidence of false memory in markets with differentiated goods.

On the other hand, it is interesting to note that advertising has increased the use of pictorial representation to promote their goods and services (Pollay, 1985; Leiss et al., 1986; Phillips & McQuarrie, 2004; McQuarrie & Phillips, 2005). For example, it is possible to find in supermarkets vegetables and fruits grouped in bags that have pictorial features, although this is not a generalized practice (see, for example, Jaeger & MacFie, 2001). Does pictorial representation helps consumers to gain a better understanding of the information given by advertisements? Is the incidence of ‘false memory’ reduced when consumers are exposed to advertisements with pictorial representations in a stressing and busy world?

The objective of this article is to report the findings of a pilot investigation designed to investigate whether the false memory phenomenon is less frequent in individuals who are exposed to pictorial representations. The aim is to use this pilot analysis as a methodological basis to investigate in future developments whether the ‘false memory phenomenon’ is also less frequent in individuals who are exposed to advertising in the form pictorial representations. That is, the aim is to offer a methodological approach that could be extended to determine whether false memory in markets associated with high levels of advertisement could be reduced by means of pictorial representations.

The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 provides a literature review on the phenomenon of false memory. Section 3 explains the research gap and the hypotheses establishes for the research. Section 4 describes the methods used in the investigation. Section 5 shows the results. Finally, Section 6 concludes the paper and discusses the implications of the results.

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