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CCN Brown Bag Series

Wednesday, January 17, 2018,
  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 115

Lisa Fazio, PhD

Department of Psychology and Human Development

Vanderbilt University

Repetition and belief: How hearing things twice makes them feel more true

Politicians, advertisers and bullshitters often repeat false or misleading claims.   Research on the illusory truth effect suggests that this repetition is likely to be effective; repeated statements are given higher truth ratings than novel statements. Prior research has assumed that this effect occurs only when individuals do not possess relevant knowledge.  In contrast, we find that prior knowledge does not protect against the illusory truth effect.  False statements that were read twice were given higher truth ratings than novel statements, even when the statements contradicted prior knowledge (e.g., “A date is a dried plum”).  Multinomial modeling demonstrated that participants sometimes rely on fluency even when knowledge is available. However, illusory truth is not inevitable.  When participants were prompted to explain how they knew that a statement was true or false before giving a truth rating, repeated statements were judged similarly to novel statements.  Thus, prior knowledge can protect against the illusory truth effect, but only if it is used.