Fictional narratives change beliefs: Replications of Prentice, Gerrig, and Bailis (1997) with mixed corroboration
Received: 06 November 1997 Accepted: 26 March 1998 DOI:
Cite this article as: Wheeler, C., Green, M.C. & Brock, T.C. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (1999) 6: 136. doi:10.3758/BF03210821 Abstract
We report three exact replications of experiments aimed at illuminating how fictional narratives influence beliefs (Prentice, Gerrig, & Bailis, 1997). Students read fictional stories that contained weak, unsupported assertions and which took place either at their home school or at an away school. Prentice et al. found that students were influenced to accept the assertions, even those blatantly false, but that this effect on beliefs was limited to the away-school setting. We questioned the limiting of the narrative effect to remote settings. Our studies consistently reproduced the first finding, heightened acceptance of statements occurring in the conversations of narrative protagonists, but we failed to reproduce the moderating effect of school location. In an attempt to understand these discrepancies, we measured likely moderating factors such as readers’ need for cognition and their extent of scrutiny of the narratives.
We are indebted to Deborah Prentice for assisting in our exact replications of her studies; she provided her materials and details of her experimental procedures, as well as helpful comments on preliminary drafts of this report. We thank Jennifer Garst for her comments. This study was supported by Grant T32-MH19728 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Melanie C. Green was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow during completion of this work.
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