Brief Report

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 720-725

On the (non)persuasive power of a brain image

  • Robert B. MichaelAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington
  • , Eryn J. NewmanAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington
  • , Matti VuorreAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington
  • , Geoff CummingAffiliated withSchool of Psychological Science, La Trobe University
  • , Maryanne GarryAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington Email author 

Abstract

The persuasive power of brain images has captivated scholars in many disciplines. Like others, we too were intrigued by the finding that a brain image makes accompanying information more credible (McCabe & Castel in Cognition 107:343-352, 2008). But when our attempts to build on this effect failed, we instead ran a series of systematic replications of the original study—comprising 10 experiments and nearly 2,000 subjects. When we combined the original data with ours in a meta-analysis, we arrived at a more precise estimate of the effect, determining that a brain image exerted little to no influence. The persistent meme of the influential brain image should be viewed with a critical eye.

Keywords

Judgment and decision making Neuroimaging Statistics