Danegeld remembered: taxing further the coin head illusion.
Martin M., Jones GV.
Two experiments studied memory for the appearance of a Danish 20 kroner coin. The coin bears the portrait of Queen Margrethe II in profile, facing to the right. Previous studies have examined memory for British coins, which similarly bear a right-facing portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. They have revealed the occurrence of a mnemonic illusion, in that British people tend to believe the portrait faces left. This finding has been attributed to the occurrence of a joint coin-stamp schema. British stamps bear a left-facing profile of the Queen, and it is possible that information from the stamp predominates in the formation of the schema. In the case of Denmark, however, stamps bear a full-face portrait of the Queen. Nevertheless, the present experiments showed that the Coin Head Illusion is also found in Denmark. That is, the number of participants recalling the Queen's head as facing to the right was significantly below even the chance level of 50%. Further, this result occurred both for residents of Denmark and for visitors to Denmark. These findings suggest that the bias underlying the Coin Head Illusion may be a more general one than that envisaged by the joint coin-stamp schema hypothesis.