Learning misinformation from fictional sources: understanding the contributions of transportation and item-specific processing.
People often pick up incorrect information about the world from movies, novels and other fictional sources. The question asked here is whether such sources are a particularly potent source of misinformation. On the one hand, story-reading involves transportation into a fictional world, with a possible reduction in access to one's prior knowledge (likely reducing the chances that the reader will notice errors). On the other hand, stories encourage relational processing as readers create mental models, decreasing the likelihood that they will encode and remember more peripheral details like erroneous facts. To test these ideas, we examined suggestibility after readers were exposed to misleading references embedded in stories and lists that were matched on a number of dimensions. In two experiments, suggestibility was greater following exposure to misinformation in a list of sentences rather than a coherent story, even though the story was rated as more engaging than the list. Furthermore, processing the story with an item-specific processing task (inserting missing letters) increased later suggestibility, whereas this task had no impact on suggestibility when misinformation was presented within a list. The type of processing used when reading a text affects suggestibility more than engagement with the text.
Fazio, LK; Dolan, PO; Marsh, EJ
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