Creating illusions of knowledge: learning errors that contradict prior knowledge.


Journal Article

Most people know that the Pacific is the largest ocean on Earth and that Edison invented the light bulb. Our question is whether this knowledge is stable, or if people will incorporate errors into their knowledge bases, even if they have the correct knowledge stored in memory. To test this, we asked participants general-knowledge questions 2 weeks before they read stories that contained errors (e.g., "Franklin invented the light bulb"). On a later general-knowledge test, participants reproduced story errors despite previously answering the questions correctly. This misinformation effect was found even for questions that were answered correctly on the initial test with the highest level of confidence. Furthermore, prior knowledge offered no protection against errors entering the knowledge base; the misinformation effect was equivalent for previously known and unknown facts. Errors can enter the knowledge base even when learners have the knowledge necessary to catch the errors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fazio, LK; Barber, SJ; Rajaram, S; Ornstein, PA; Marsh, EJ

Published Date

  • February 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 142 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 5

PubMed ID

  • 22612770

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22612770

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-2222

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0096-3445

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0028649


  • eng