, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 368-374

Reactions to blatantly contradictory information


In two experiments, subjects were shown a complex event and were later exposed to misinformation about that event. In addition, some subjects received a piece of blatantly contradictory misinformation. Blatant misinformation both was rejected by subjects and caused them to be more resistant to other misinformation that they would ordinarily have been inclined to accept the “spillover” effect. However, delaying the blatant misinformation until the other pieces of false information had already been processed destroyed its ability to make subjects immune to such “ordinary” misinformation. These results are consistent with the idea that subjects incorporate new information into memory at the time it is initially introduced and use this information to update an existing memorial representation.

This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Elizabeth Loftus. The writing of the manuscript was facilitated by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Andrew Mellon Foundation to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where the author enjoyed the privileges of fellowship during 1978–1979.