Does double checking make you trust your memory less?

Compulsive checking occurs in both physical and mental forms and is a common symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Though there has been much recent attention devoted to research on physical checking, mental checking has been largely neglected. Previous research has reliably found that repeated physical checking reduces memory confidence, vividness and detail, while memory accuracy remains relatively unaffected. The current study examined memory accuracy and meta-memory in (n = 62) undergraduate students for both physical and mental checks after repeated physical or mental checking of a stove. We hypothesized that repeated physical checking would lead to reductions in meta-memory for previous physical checks and that repeated mental checking would lead to reductions in meta-memory for previous mental checks. Results were consistent with hypotheses, in that checking in each modality led to significant decreases in all meta-memory variables for that modality but not the other. Results also showed that checking in each modality led to slight but significant declines in memory accuracy for that modality. Findings are discussed in terms of cognitive-behavioural models of and treatments for compulsive checking in OCD.

Source: “Don’t even think about checking: Mental checking causes memory distrust” from Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Volume 41, Issue 4, December 2010, Pages 345-351

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