M. van den Hout
- Repeated checking causes memory distrust
- Behaviour Research and Therapy
- Volume | Issue number
- 41 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
This paper attempts to explain why in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) checkers distrust in memory persists despite extensive checking. It is argued that: (1) repeated checking increases familiarity with the issues checked; (2) increased familiarity promotes conceptual processing which inhibits perceptual processing; (3) inhibited perceptual processing makes recollections less vivid and detailed and finally; (4) reduction in vividness and detail promotes distrust in memory. An interactive computer animation was developed in which participants had to perform checking rituals on a virtual gas stove. Two separate experiments were carried out with n=39 (Experiment 1) and n=40 (Experiment 11) healthy participants. In both studies, the control group and the experimental group were given the same pre-test and post-test on the virtual gas stove. In between, the experimental group engaged in 'relevant checking', i.e. checking the gas stove, while the control group engaged in 'irrelevant checking', i.e. checking virtual light bulbs. In both experiments there were powerful effects of repeated 'relevant checking': while actual memory accuracy remained unaffected, the vividness and detail of the recollections were greatly reduced...
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