Event-related potential evidence suggesting voters remember political events that never happened

Jason C. Coronel, Kara D. Federmeier, Brian D. Gonsalves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voters tend to misattribute issue positions to political candidates that are consistent with their partisan affiliation, even though these candidates have never explicitly stated or endorsed such stances. The prevailing explanation in political science is that voters misattribute candidates' issue positions because they use their political knowledge to make educated but incorrect guesses. We suggest that voter errors can also stem from a different source: false memories. The current study examined event-related potential (ERP) responses to misattributed and accurately remembered candidate issue information. We report here that ERP responses to misattributed information can elicit memory signals similar to that of correctly remembered old information-a pattern consistent with a false memory rather than educated guessing interpretation of these misattributions. These results suggest that some types of voter misinformation about candidates may be harder to correct than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernss143
Pages (from-to)358-366
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Event-related potentials
  • False memories
  • Misinformation
  • Political

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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