Creating illusions of past encounter through brief exposure.
Titchener (1928) suggested that briefly glancing at a scene could make it appear strangely familiar when it was fully processed moments later. The closest laboratory demonstration used words as stimuli, and showed that briefly glancing at a to-be-judged word increased the subject's belief that it had been presented in an earlier study list (Jacoby & Whitehouse, 1989). We evaluated whether a hasty glance could elicit a false belief in a prior encounter, from a time and place outside of the experiment. This goal precluded using word stimuli, so we had subjects evaluate unfamiliar symbols. Each symbol was preceded by a brief exposure to an identical symbol, a different symbol, or no symbol. A brief glance at an identical symbol increased attributions to preexperimental experience, relative to a glance at a different symbol or no symbol, providing a possible mechanism for common illusions of false recognition.
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