Get ready to be Tripped out! This will be a test of your memory.
You will need a pen and a piece of paper.
Take a breath . . . prepare your mind. Now read out loud, slowly the list of words. When you come to the end of the list, look away. The write down as many of the words as you can remember.
There were sixteen words for you to remember. But, I’m not really concerned with how many you remembered. I’m more concerned with how many you added that weren’t on the list. I’m betting that your list contains the word “window”. That’s right, go back and look. Window was not on the list. Just about every other word that goes with window is on the list, but not window itself. Don’t feel bad, this happens to most people. In fact, it has been shown that there are many times a detail will creep into our subconscious by association as opposed to memory.
If you did include it, then you have just fallen into what is called the DRM Paradigm, named after the discoverers of this effect: Deese Roediger McDermott (DRM). The word ‘window’ is not on the list, however, all of the words on the list are associated with a window.
Studies such as the one you did above was repeated many times and the result is that “people recalled the non-present target words (in this case window) almost as much as words actually presented. Participants rated the target words at the highest confidence 58% of the time, which means that they felt the target words had been on the list over half the time.”
This is a very simple, but powerful example of how our brains create false memories.There is a lot of material to study on this topic, but here are just a few links if you would like to learn more: