Background: The present study aimed to analyze the effect of acute stress on false recognition in the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm. In this paradigm, lists of words associated with a non-presented critical lure are studied and, in a subsequent memory test, critical lures are often falsely remembered. Method: In two experiments, participants were randomly assigned to either the stress group (Trier Social Stress Test) or the nostress control group. Because we sought to control the level-of-processing at encoding, in Experiment 1, participants created a visual mental image for each presented word (deep encoding). In Experiment 2, participants performed a shallow encoding (to respond whether each word contained the letter "o"). Results: The results indicated that, in both experiments, as predicted, heart rate and STAI-S scores increased only in the stress group. However, false recognition did not differ across stress and nostress groups. Conclusions: Results suggest that, although psychosocial stress was successfully induced, it does not enhance the vulnerability of individuals with acute stress to DRM false recognition, regardless of the level of processing.
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