An initial accuracy focus prevents illusory truth.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

News stories, advertising campaigns, and political propaganda often repeat misleading claims, increasing their persuasive power. Repeated statements feel easier to process, and thus truer, than new ones. Surprisingly, this illusory truth effect occurs even when claims contradict young adults' stored knowledge (e.g., repeating The fastest land animal is the leopard makes it more believable). In four experiments, we tackled this problem by prompting people to behave like "fact checkers." Focusing on accuracy at exposure (giving initial truth ratings) wiped out the illusion later, but only when participants held relevant knowledge. This selective benefit persisted over a delay. Our findings inform theories of how people evaluate truth and suggest practical strategies for coping in a "post-truth world."

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brashier, NM; Eliseev, ED; Marsh, EJ

Published Date

  • January 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 194 /

Start / End Page

  • 104054 -

PubMed ID

  • 31473395

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-7838

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0010-0277

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104054


  • eng