Conditions that Modulate Perceptual Interference

Abstract

Perceptual interference refers to less accurate memories due to verbalizing or imaging nonverbal experiences. We theorize that this occurs because people have prototypical representations of nonverbal stimuli, and these prototypical representations are activated when they verbalize or image exemplars of the stimuli. The activation takes place even though the prototype and the exemplar differ. When people are prompted to remember the exemplar, they mistakenly remember the prototype. In the present study, we want to identify conditions that modulate perceptual interference. We hypothesize that verbalizing nonverbal stimuli multiple times, in the absence of the actual stimuli, will increase the perceptual interference effect. We also hypothesize that viewing nonverbal stimuli multiple times will decrease the perceptual interference effect. Our sample consists of 48 students from a private Southern university and members of the surrounding community. Our hypotheses are supported, demonstrating that there are conditions that can affect the strength of perceptual inference.


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