Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 449–469 | Cite as

Using Fictional Sources in the Classroom: Applications from Cognitive Psychology

  • Elizabeth J. MarshEmail author
  • Andrew C. Butler
  • Sharda Umanath
Review Article


Fictional materials are commonly used in the classroom to teach course content. Both laboratory experiments and classroom demonstrations illustrate the benefits of using fiction to help students learn accurate information about the world. However, fictional sources often contain factually inaccurate content, making them a potent vehicle for learning misinformation about the world. We briefly review theoretical issues relevant to whether learners process fictional sources differently before exploring how individual differences, learning activities, and assessment characteristics may affect learning from fiction. This review focuses on our own experimental approaches for studying learning from fiction, including learning from short stories and from films, while connecting to a broader educational literature on learning from fictional sources. Throughout the review, implications for educational use and future directions for experimental research are noted.


Fiction Learning Education Knowledge Suggestibility 



This work was supported by a collaborative award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation. We thank Meredith Mechanik for assistance with manuscript preparation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth J. Marsh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew C. Butler
    • 1
  • Sharda Umanath
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology & NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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