Western Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards (WLURAs)


False recognition is an inaccurate claim of having previously encountered a non-presented test item. Exceptionally high levels of false recognition are observed when participants are exposed to lists of semantically related words. Israel and Schacter (1997) showed that presenting pictures of items with their auditory label during the encoding phase significantly reduced false recognition relative to presenting only words with their auditory label. The current study excluded the auditory labels and instead investigated whether presenting pictures of items along with words during encoding would also reduce false recognition relative to presenting the written words only. The results provided no evidence to support reduced rates of false recognition in the picture encoding condition [t(48) = 0.42, p > .05]. Olszewska et al. (2015) suggested that auditory traces persist more distinctively in memory than visual traces, hence, the discrepancy in results between the core literature and the present study can possibly be attributed to the exclusion of auditory labels. Future research should focus on providing a detailed account of the role of auditory labels in reducing false recognition.

How did you choose your research topic and/or design your research question? (200 words)

The broad research question “Do pictures reduce false memories?” was assigned to all students in the course. My primary interest in psychology is cognition, so an opportunity for an in-depth study of memory compelled me to narrow the research question down and learn as much as I could about the occurrence of false memories. From the two assigned articles, I discovered that my phenomenon of interest was the DRM paradigm. This paradigm suggests that people experience increased false memory formation when studying lists of semantically related words. Furthermore, I recognized that the successful reduction of the effects of the DRM paradigm shown by the two assigned articles was revolutionary, and started an avalanche of consequent investigations. Whilst I was not required to read beyond the assigned articles, I became personally invested in this project which drove me to read all relevant publications I could find. After an extensive review of the literature and an evaluation of the assigned study design, I narrowed down and shaped my research question into: “Does the presentation of pictures during the encoding phase reduce the occurrence of false recognition in the DRM paradigm?”

How did you find library/archives services and resources for your research topic? (200 words)

To establish the foundation for my experiment, I delved into all relevant literature to comply with the modern standards of experiments in psychology which tend to heavily rely on previous literature. In my search for resources, I used print and digital journal articles investigating the reduced formation of false memories in the DRM paradigm. I identified “false memories” and “DRM paradigm” as keywords. I would search for these terms using the Boolean operators to find relevant results. My primary search engines were Google Scholar, APA PsycNet and OMNI. Often, articles that I found on Google Scholar or APA PsycNet were available to me through Western hyperlinks or, if not, I was able to find them by manually searching them up on OMNI. For example, I found Olsewska et al. (2015), an article on which I base the discussion of my paper while browsing Google Scholar and although the access to it is subscription based, I was able to access it for free through OMNI. Overall, OMNI enabled me to access the majority of the articles I considered when developing my hypothesis and informing my research paper.

What library/archives services and resources did you use to perform your research? (200 words)

In my introductory Political Science course, a librarian delivered a presentation about different databases available through Western Libraries and ways to navigate them. Their lecture taught me how to use keywords and Boolean operators to browse literature. Though their lecture was focused on Political Science, I was able to apply the skills I learned to my search for peer-reviewed articles on false memory reduction. My search yielded a vast number of results and, following the librarian’s advice, I only read abstracts to decide whether the content was relevant to my research topic, which saved me a lot of time. Later in the process, upon completing my bibliography, I sought reference assistance at a help desk which helped me gain confidence in my referencing style. Finally, I booked a tutoring session with Huron Writing and Learning Services to have my final draft reviewed by a librarian. I often use this service and, other than immediate assistance, I believe it equipped me with excellent editing skills that enabled me to edit my paper on my own until I was satisfied with it. The above library services improved my research skills, boosted my writing confidence and fostered my future research independence.