Memory Study Wins Journal’s Best Paper Award
Research by Dr. Denise Park and Colleagues Shows How Warnings
About False Claims Can Backfire With Older Consumers
Dec. 8, 2008
A major journal recently presented its best-article award to Dr. Denise Park of the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth and her colleagues for research on memory and false information.
The Journal of Consumer Research gave the researchers its 2008 “Best Article” honor for the 2005 study, “How Warnings about False Claims Become Recommendations.” The journal presents such awards three years after publication to see how the research stands the test of time.
Dr. Park holds the UT Dallas T. Boone Pickens Distinguished University Chair in Clinical Brain Science. Her research colleagues were Ian Skurnik of the University of Virginia, and Carolyn Yoon and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan.
The research showed that older adults tend to mistakenly remember false claims as true when they are repeated. The paper showed that the more an older adult hears that a health statement is false, the more likely he or she is to remember mistakenly later that it is true. Researchers believe the phenomenon occurs because the information seems familiar.
“The authors offer a very pragmatic application of this research, particularly when it comes to protecting older consumers,” the journal’s review committee said.
Park says the important lesson to take away is to present information accurately and positively. Reporting information in the negative, (e.g., “It is a myth that....”) may lead older adults to believe later that a false statement is true because they only remember the main idea or gist.
Park, also a Regent’s Research Scholar, joined the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2007. Her lab is at the school’s Center for BrainHealth, where she studies how the mind changes with age.