What is the cause of confidence inflation in the life events inventory (LEI) paradigm?

Nicholas R. Von Glahn, Hajime Otani, Mai Migita, Sara J. Langford, Erin E. Hillard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Briefly imagining, paraphrasing, or explaining an event causes people to increase their confidence that this event occurred during childhoodthe imagination inflation effect. The mechanisms responsible for the effect were investigated with a new paradigm. In Experiment 1, event familiarity (defined as processing fluency) was varied by asking participants to rate each event once, three times, or five times. No inflation was found, indicating that familiarity does not account for the effect. In Experiment 2, richness of memory representation was manipulated by asking participants to generate zero, three, or six details. Confidence increased from the initial to the final rating in the three- and six-detail conditions, indicating that the effect is based on reality-monitoring errors. However, greater inflation in the three-detail condition than in the six-detail condition indicated that there is a boundary condition. These results were also consistent with an alternative hypothesis, the mental workload hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-154
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of General Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • familiarity
  • imagination inflation
  • reality-monitoring


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