Our false memories of our favourite music

We think we remember the music we listen to really well, but new research suggests we may be mistaken.

That is the implication of research being presented today by Dr Sue Sherman from Keele University at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Cognitive Psychology Section.

Together with Jo Kennerley, also from Keele University, Dr Sherman presented participants in her two experiments with seven song titles (experiment 1) or seven 30-second audio clips (experiment 2) for each of nine popular artists, such as Robbie Williams.

After completing an unrelated task to distract them, participants were asked to write down as many of the songs as they could recall. They returned a week later and tried to remember the songs again.

The researchers found that participants falsely recalled a significant number of songs by the artists that had not been in the original list. This trend had increased a week later, and correct recall of the songs that were in the list had decreased.

Dr Sherman says: "Our false memories for songs would appear to increase over time, so it’s possible that when you remember listening to Dancing Queen last weekend, you might in fact have been listening to Waterloo instead!”