Date of Graduation

8-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Denise Beike

Committee Member

Douglas Behrend

Second Committee Member

David Schroeder

Keywords

Autobiographical Memory, Social Function

Abstract

The impact of exaggerating when sharing an autobiographical memory with another person was investigated. Literature indicates that sharing an autobiographical memory serves a social function. However no research has investigated the impact that exaggerating when sharing specific memories has on this function. Research on lying suggests that deviating from the truth would cause the listener to like the speaker less. Research on what makes a good story indicates deviating from the truth could enhance the social benefits of sharing specific autobiographical memories by increasing the quality of the story. In Study 1, participants read scenarios of a person telling a story about a previous experience. The events were shared in complete honesty, by exaggerating the events, or by adding outrageous, yet entertaining, lies. Results indicated that participants prefer entertaining stories but do not like lies. In Study 2 participants were instructed to recall the events of a video to another participant in an entertaining way, an accurate way, or without any instructions. Results indicated the use of exaggeration, personal evaluations, and less details when recalling events in an entertaining way. Telling events in an entertaining way increased closeness and predicted liking. Participants' perceptions of accuracy also predicted liking. Together these findings indicated that exciting stories are preferred over boring tales if the listener is unaware of any deviations from the actual facts.

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