British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 37 Issue 1 (February 1998), Pages 1-126

Simulating a memory impairment: Can amnesics implicitly outperform simulators? (pages 31-48)

Objectives. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a variety of tests in differentiating simulating test performances from genuine memory‐impaired and normal (control) test performances.

Design. A simulation design was implemented, based on an analogue design in which normal participants were given experimental instructions to feign a mental impairment and are compared to (a) other normal participants with instructions to perform honestly, and (b) a comparison group, for example, acquired brain‐injured persons, with similar instructions.

Method. Forty individuals comprised the simulating and control group and all participants were randomly assigned to the simulating and control groups. Twenty memory‐impaired patients, all of whom had been diagnosed as suffering from a memory impairment following acquired brain damage, participated as the memory‐impaired control group. The simulation group was directed to imitate a person with a memory impairment. The primary outcome measure involved identifying those tests, if any, where simulators were significantly different from normal and memory‐impaired participants.

Results. On 5 of the 15 tasks administered, simulators performed significantly differently from normal and memory‐impaired participants. Of these 5 tasks, the coin‐in‐the‐hand, when administered in conjunction with the autobiographical interview, identified 95 per cent of the simulators without misclassifying any of the memory‐impaired or normal participants.

Conclusion. It is suggested that these two tests, when administered jointly, might be of use in clinical settings to assist in the detection of malingerers.

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