No evidence for unethical amnesia for imagined actions: A failed replication and extension.
In a recent study, Kouchaki and Gino (2016) suggest that memory for unethical actions is impaired, regardless of whether such actions are real or imagined. However, as we argue in the current study, their claim that people develop "unethical amnesia" confuses two distinct and dissociable memory deficits: one affecting the phenomenology of remembering and another affecting memory accuracy. To further investigate whether unethical amnesia affects memory accuracy, we conducted three studies exploring unethical amnesia for imagined ethical violations. The first study (N = 228) attempts to directly replicate the only study from Kouchaki and Gino (2016) that includes a measure of memory accuracy. The second study (N = 232) attempts again to replicate these accuracy effects from Kouchaki and Gino (2016), while including several additional variables meant to potentially help in finding the effect. The third study (N = 228) is an attempted conceptual replication using the same paradigm as Kouchaki and Gino (2016), but with a new vignette describing a different moral violation. We did not find an unethical amnesia effect involving memory accuracy in any of our three studies. These results cast doubt upon the claim that memory accuracy is impaired for imagined unethical actions. Suggestions for further ways to study memory for moral and immoral actions are discussed.
Stanley, ML; Yang, BW; De Brigard, F
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)