Memory & Cognition

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 329–338 | Cite as

Discrepancy detection and vulnerability to misleading postevent information

  • James P. Tousignant
  • David Hall
  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
Article

Abstract

When people are exposed to misleading details after a witnessed event, they often claim that they saw the misleading details as part of the event. We refer to this as themisinformation effect. In four experiments, involving 570 subjects, we explored the role that discrepancy detection plays in the misinformation effect. Experiment 1 showed that subjects who naturally read a post-event narrative more slowly were more resistant to the effects of misleading information contained in the narrative. In Experiment 2, subjects who naturally read more slowly were more likely to detect a discrepancy between what they were reading and what was stored in their memory. In Experiment 3, subjects who were instructed to read slowly were more likely to detect a discrepancy than were those who were instructed to read quickly. In Experiment 4, subjects who were instructed to read slowly were more resistant to misleading postevent information. Taken together, these results suggest that longer reading times are associated with a greater scrutiny of postevent information. This leads to an increased likelihood that discrepancies will be detected and that the misinformation will be resisted.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • James P. Tousignant
    • 1
  • David Hall
    • 1
  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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