Ironic effects of drawing attention to story errors.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Readers learn errors embedded in fictional stories and use them to answer later general knowledge questions (Marsh, Meade, & Roediger, 2003). Suggestibility is robust and occurs even when story errors contradict well-known facts. The current study evaluated whether suggestibility is linked to participants' inability to judge story content as correct versus incorrect. Specifically, participants read stories containing correct and misleading information about the world; some information was familiar (making error discovery possible), while some was more obscure. To improve participants' monitoring ability, we highlighted (in red font) a subset of story phrases requiring evaluation; readers no longer needed to find factual information. Rather, they simply needed to evaluate its correctness. Readers were more likely to answer questions with story errors if they were highlighted in red font, even if they contradicted well-known facts. Although highlighting to-be-evaluated information freed cognitive resources for monitoring, an ironic effect occurred: Drawing attention to specific errors increased rather than decreased later suggestibility. Failure to monitor for errors, not failure to identify the information requiring evaluation, leads to suggestibility.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Eslick, AN; Fazio, LK; Marsh, EJ

Published Date

  • February 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 184 - 191

PubMed ID

  • 21294039

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4084550

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1464-0686

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0965-8211

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/09658211.2010.543908


  • eng