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Memory & Cognition

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 11–26 | Cite as

Reducing reliance on inaccurate information

  • David N. RappEmail author
  • Scott R. Hinze
  • Kristine Kohlhepp
  • Rachel A. Ryskin
Article

Abstract

People learn from the texts that they read, but sometimes what they read is wrong. Previous research has demonstrated that individuals encode even obvious inaccuracies, at times relying on the misinformation to complete postreading tasks. In the present study, we investigated whether the influence of inaccurate information might be reduced by encouraging the retrieval of accurate knowledge. Participants read an extended text that contained both accurate and inaccurate assertions, after which they evaluated the validity of statements associated with those assertions. In general, participants made more mistakes in their evaluations of statements after having read inaccurate as compared to accurate assertions, offering evidence of the influence of misinformation. However, when participants were tasked with correcting inaccuracies during reading, their mistakes were substantially reduced. Encouraging the retrieval of accurate knowledge during reading can reduce the influence of misinformation. These findings are discussed with respect to the contributions of episodic traces and prior knowledge on learning, as well as to the conditions that support successful comprehension.

Keywords

Learning Memory Prior knowledge Reading comprehension Persuasion Text processing 

Notes

Author note

We thank Allison Weinberg for her assistance in data collection. We also thank Matt Jacovina and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this manuscript should be addressed to David N. Rapp, 2120 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208 (e-mail: rapp@northwestern.edu).

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David N. Rapp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Scott R. Hinze
    • 1
  • Kristine Kohlhepp
    • 1
  • Rachel A. Ryskin
    • 2
  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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