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The Effect of Alcohol Intoxication on Misinformation Acceptance and Confidence-Accuracy Calibration

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We experimentally examined the effects of alcohol consumption and exposure to misleading postevent information on memory for a hypothetical interactive rape scenario, examining whether memory encoding and retrieval processes differed in relation to intoxication. Participants (N = 80) were randomly assigned to consume alcohol (mean BAC = .06%) or tonic water before engaging in the scenario. Alcohol expectancy was controlled, and participant beliefs about the beverage they thought they had consumed and feelings of intoxication were measured. A week later, immediately before recalling the scenario, participants were exposed to a postevent narrative, ostensibly written by another research participant who had been interviewed about the scenario. After the recall task, participants completed a recognition test, reporting confidence in the likely accuracy of their answers. Participants who believed they had consumed alcohol compared to those who believed they had consumed tonic reported fewer correct details; but, they were no more likely to report incorrect or misleading information. Further, participants who had consumed alcohol were less likely to volunteer answers to recognition questions about misled items. The confidence-accuracy relationship for control and misled items was similar across groups, and there was some evidence that metacognitive discrimination was better for participants who believed they had consumed alcohol compared to those who believed they had consumed tonic. We discuss the implications for alcohol’s effect on memory encoding and retrieval strategies in the context of rape.

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The Effect of Alcohol Intoxication on Misinformation Acceptance and Confidence-Accuracy Calibration

  1. 1. The Effect of Alcohol Intoxication on Misinformation Acceptance and Confidence-Accuracy Calibration Heather D. Flowe1, Joyce Humphries2, Melanie Takarangi3, Kasia Zelek4, Nilda Karoğlu 5, Fiona Gabbert6 and Lorraine Hope7 1University of Birmingham, School of Psychology 2Edgehill University, School of Psychology 3Flinders University, School of Psychology 4University of Leicester, School of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour 5University of Kent, School of Psychology 6Goldsmiths University of London, Department of Psychology 7University of Portsmouth, Department of Psychology
  2. 2. Alcohol and Sexual Violence  473,000 adults in England and Wales are victims of sexual offenses per year on average (Home Office, 2013)  Estimates for rape and attempted rape have ranged up to an annual high of 1.27 million persons in the U.S. (National Research Council, 2014)
  3. 3. Alcohol and Sexual Violence  Alcohol is often antecedent to sexual assault, with up to 75% involving alcohol use on the part of the victim, the perpetrator, or both (Stern, 2010)  Prosecutors reject 65% of rape cases (Flowe et al., 2011), most often citing victim considerations such as alcohol use  Alcohol:  Prejudicial aspect  Probative aspect
  4. 4. Alcohol and Sexual Assault  “Advocates and SANEs [Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners] get frustrated when we can’t move forward with an investigation, but sometimes we can’t because the victim doesn’t remember what happened or there are inconsistencies [in her story].”  From (Cole & Logan, 2010)
  5. 5. Alcohol’s Effects on Memory • Alcohol impairs the recollection of specific episodic memory details, but not feeling of knowing (i.e., familiarity) (Bisby, Leitz, Morgan, & Curran, 2009) • Alcohol affects completeness but not the accuracy of recall Hagsand, Roos af Hjelmsäter, Granhag, Fahlke, & Söderpalm Gordh, 2012; Harvey, Kneller & Campbell, 2013; Hildebrand Karlén, Roos af Hjelmsäter, Fahlke, Granhag, & Söderpalm Gordh, 2014; Schreiber Compo et al., 2012; Schreiber Compo et al., 2017; Van Oorsouw, & Merckelbach, 2012 )
  6. 6. Does alcohol increase vulnerability to postevent memory reporting influences?  When people are sober during event encoding and then consume alcohol just before they receive MI, they are less likely to incorporate misleading details in their memory reports 24 hours later compared to those who consumed a placebo (Gawrylowicz, Ridley, Albery, Barnoth & Young, 2017)
  7. 7. Does alcohol increase vulnerability to postevent memory reporting influences?  For participants who were alcohol-intoxicated both during the to-be- remembered event and when they were exposed to MI, the likelihood of reporting MI does not differ compared to sober participants (Schreiber Compo et al., 2012)  However, Van Oorsouw et al. (2015) found that alcohol intoxication during encoding was associated with increased suggestibility when sober
  8. 8. How might alcohol impair memory monitoring?  Retrieval of the original memory trace rather than misinformation is more likely if people monitor the source of their recollections (e.g., Lindsay & Johnson, 1989; Thomas, Bulevich & Chan, 2010)  Conditions that reduce diagnostic source cues availability lead to poorer metacognitive discrimination and lower accuracy on misled items (e.g., Horry, Colton, & Williamson, 2014)
  9. 9. Research Questions  Do people recall fewer correct details about rape if they were intoxicated compared to sober during encoding?  Are intoxicated participants more likely to recall incorrect information, particularly misleading information?  Is metacognitive discrimination accuracy lower for intoxicated participants?
  10. 10. Participants  80 women between the ages of 18 and 31 (M=20.36, SD=2.41)
  11. 11. Design  2 beverage (alcohol BAC .06% or tonic) x 2 expectancy (told alcohol or told tonic) x 4 item type (consistent, misled, neutral, and control items) mixed design  Item type was varied within participants; the other factors were varied between subjects  Dependent variables:  Number of correct, incorrect, and misled details  Recall accuracy  Recognition accuracy and confidence
  12. 12. Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 7 days later Screening
  13. 13. Screening  Medical conditions  Medication  Problem drinking behaviours  Pregnancy
  14. 14. Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Screening Beverage Manipulation Rape Scenario Rape scenario presented via participant choice procedure: Flowe et al., 2007; Flowe et al., 2011; Flowe et al., 2016; Flowe et al., 2017
  15. 15. Method: Session 1, Encoding Phase
  16. 16. Method: Session 1, Encoding Phase
  17. 17. Method: Session 1, Encoding Phase
  18. 18. Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 7 days later Screening Beverage Manipulation Rape Post- event Narrative Interview Recog Test
  19. 19. Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 7 days later Screening Beverage Manipulation Rape Post- event Narrative Interview Recog Test
  20. 20. Correct Details 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 SAI Placebo 0.06 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 CI Placebo 0.06
  21. 21. Incorrect Details 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 SAI Placebo 0.06 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 CI Placebo 0.06
  22. 22. Overall Accuracy 0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00 Correct ProportionCorrectly Recalled Self Administered Interview Placebo 0.06 0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60 0.70 0.80 0.90 1.00 Correct ProportionCorrectly Recalled Cognitive Interview Placebo 0.06
  23. 23. Recognition Performance 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 consistent "Idon'tknow"Responses Placebo 0.06
  24. 24. Recognition Accuracy 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 consistent neutral misleading Placebo 0.06
  25. 25. Other results  Computed the Adjusted Normalised Discrimination Index, and found that women who thought they had consumed alcohol had higher discrimination accuracy, F(1, 33) = 10.17, p = .003, ηp 2 = .24, MSE = .76  Analysed the recall data as a function of person, object, action, and location details, and interview phase (free recall v question), and found some evidence that women who believed they had consumed alcohol reported fewer details during the question phase than those who thought they had tonic, F(4, 61) = 2.81, p = .03, Wilks’ Lambda = .84, ηp 2 = .16.
  26. 26. Conclusion  Do participants who were acutely alcohol-intoxicated during encoding recall fewer correct details than their sober counterparts? No  Are intoxicated participants more likely to recall incorrect information, particularly when they have been misled? No  Does metacognitive discrimination accuracy lower for intoxicated participants? No, and there was evidence that women were controlling and monitoring their memory reports depending on intoxication beliefs
  27. 27. Implications, Limitations and Future Directions  Alcohol does not necessarily affect the quality of memory reports  Larger dose of alcohol necessary  Field research may enable higher doses, but the trade-off is that alcohol expectancy cannot be studied

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