Anna-Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor - PsychologyDr. Anna-Lisa Cohen, associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva College, co-authored “Future Planning May Promote Prospective False Memories” for the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

Dr. Cohen describes prospective memory in this way: “Have you ever planned to do something in the future (e.g., email a friend) and then a day later falsely believe that you actually carried out that intention (when in fact you had only intended to)? It’s as if the intention to do something gets mistakenly remembered as something you carried out.”

Here is a more technical description from the article’s abstract:

Prospective memory (PM) involves remembering to execute future intentions. Pairs played a word game (Taboo) with an embedded PM task. In Taboo, one player (clue giver) must get their partner (clue guesser) to say aloud a target word (e.g., ROOF) by offering clues such as “home” without saying certain taboo words (e.g., fiddler, house). The PM task required clue givers to remember to say specific clue words if any predesignated PM targets appeared during the game (e.g., “If ROOF is a target, use ‘home’ as a clue”). Before playing Taboo, participants learned that half the PM targets did not have to be executed (cancelled intention) and half did (active intention). One day after playing, participants rated how clearly they remembered executing PM task and targets that had never appeared in the Taboo game. Memory ratings were higher for words from active intentions relative to cancelled intentions, evidencing false prospective memory.

Dr. Cohen’s co-authors are:

  • Michael J. Silverstein, Department of Psychology, Drexel University
  • Daniel G. Derksen, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University
  • Zachariah I, Hamzagic, Department of Psychology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • D. Stephen Lindsay, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria
  • Daniel M. Bernstein, Department of Psychology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
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