Recent study, but not retrieval, of knowledge protects against learning errors.
Surprisingly, people incorporate errors into their knowledge bases even when they have the correct knowledge stored in memory (e.g., Fazio, Barber, Rajaram, Ornstein, & Marsh, 2013). We examined whether heightening the accessibility of correct knowledge would protect people from later reproducing misleading information that they encountered in fictional stories. In Experiment 1, participants studied a series of target general knowledge questions and their correct answers either a few minutes (high accessibility of knowledge) or 1 week (low accessibility of knowledge) before exposure to misleading story references. In Experiments 2a and 2b, participants instead retrieved the answers to the target general knowledge questions either a few minutes or 1 week before the rest of the experiment. Reading the relevant knowledge directly before the story-reading phase protected against reproduction of the misleading story answers on a later general knowledge test, but retrieving that same correct information did not. Retrieving stored knowledge from memory might actually enhance the encoding of relevant misinformation.
Mullet, HG; Umanath, S; Marsh, EJ
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