We've all likely experienced false memories at some point or another. It turns out, false memories can occur from mere observation. In one study, participants were asked to perform certain tasks and observed others performing different tasks. When asked about which ones they had performed, participants falsely remembered doing activities they had only observed.
This doesn't come as too much of a shock to me. When it comes to performing seemingly insignificant tasks like shaking a bottle (a task some participants were instructed to do in the study), I can see how they might be easily confused. My roommates and I recently cleaned our apartment, yet if you asked me to recite what I specifically did, I might easily mistake my roommate's actions for my own.
Surprisingly, in a different study, participants had false memories even after explicitly being warned not to mistake observed behaviors for their own. Making a conscious effort to differentiate between observed and performed behavior would seem like a rather easy task, yet apparently, it isn't as easy as I thought. What do you think can account for this behavior?