Information that initially is presumed to be correct, but that is later retracted or corrected, often continues to influence memory and reasoning. This occurs even if the retraction itself is well remembered. The present study investigated whether the continued influence of misinformation can be reduced by explicitly warning people at the outset that they may be misled. A specific warning— giving detailed information about the continued influence effect (CIE)—succeeded in reducing the continued reliance on outdated information but did not eliminate it. A more general warning—reminding people that facts are not always properly checked before information is disseminated—was even less effective. In an additional experiment, a specific warning was combined with the provision of a plausible alternative explanation for the retracted information. This combined manipulation further reduced the CIE but still failed to eliminate it altogether.
Anastasi, J. S., Rhodes, M. G., & Burns, M. C. (2000). Distinguishing between memory illusions and actual memories using phenomenological measurements and explicit warnings. American Journal of Psychology, 113, 1–26.
Ayers, M. S., & Reder, L. M. (1998). A theoretical review of the misinformation effect: Predictions from an activation-based memory model. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5, 1–21.
Belli, R. F., Lindsay, D. S., Gales, M. S., & McCarthy, T. T. (1994). Memory impairment and source misattribution in postevent misinformation experiments with short retention intervals. Memory & Cognition, 22, 40–54.
Bush, J. G., Johnson, H. M., & Seifert, C. M. (1994). The implications of corrections: Then why did you mention it? In A. Ram & K. Eiselt (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 112–117). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Chambers, K. L., & Zaragoza, M. S. (2001). Intended and unintended effects of explicit warnings on eyewitness suggestibility: Evidence from source identification tests. Memory & Cognition, 29, 1120–1129.
Christiaansen, R. E., & Ochalek, K. (1983). Editing misleading information from memory: Evidence for the coexistence of original and postevent information. Memory & Cognition, 11, 467–475.
Deese, J. (1959). On the prediction of occurrence of particular verbal intrusions in immediate recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58, 17–22.
Eakin, D. K., Schreiber, T. A., & Sergent-Marshall, S. (2003). Misinformation effects in eyewitness memory: The presence and absence of memory impairment as a function of warning and misinformation accessibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 29, 813–825.
Echterhoff, G., Hirst, W., & Hussy, W. (2005). How eyewitnesses resist misinformation: Social postwarnings and the monitoring of memory characteristics. Memory & Cognition, 33, 770–782.
Ecker, U. K. H., Lewandowsky, S., & Apai, J. (in press). Terrorists brought down the plane!— No, actually it was a technical fault: Processing corrections of emotive information. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Ecker, U. K. H., Lewandowsky, S., Swire, B., & Chang, D. (2010). Misinformation in memory: Effects of the encoding strength and strength of retraction. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Fein, S., McCloskey, A. L., & Tomlinson, T. M. (1997). Can the jury disregard that information? The use of suspicion to reduce the prejudicial effects of pretrial publicity and inadmissible testimony. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1215–1226.
Gallo, D. A., Roberts, M. J., & Seamon, J. G. (1997). Remembering words not presented in lists: Can we avoid creating false memories? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4, 271–276.
Gallo, D. A., Roediger, H. L., III, & McDermott, K. B. (2001). Associative false recognition occurs without strategic criterion shifts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8, 579–586.
Gilbert, D. T., Krull, D. S., & Malone, P. S. (1990). Unbelieving the unbelievable: Some problems in the rejection of false information. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 59, 601–613.
Gilbert, D. T., Tafarodi, R. W., & Malone, P. S. (1993). You can’t not believe everything you read. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 65, 221–233.
Goldsmith, M., Koriat, A., & Weinberg-Eliezer, A. (2002). Strategic regulation of grain size in memory reporting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 131, 73–95.
Greene, E., Flynn, M. S., & Loftus, E. F. (1982). Inducing resistance to misleading information. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 21, 207–219.
Hugenberg, K., Miller, J., & Claypool, H. M. (2007). Categorization and individuation in the cross-race recognition deficit: Toward a solution to an insidious problem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 334–340.
Johnson, H. M., & Seifert, C. M. (1994). Sources of the continued influence effect: When misinformation in memory affects later inferences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 20, 1420–1436.
Johnson, H. M., & Seifert, C. M. (1998). Updating accounts following a correction of misinformation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 24, 1483–1494.
Johnson, H. M., & Seifert, C. M. (1999). Modifying mental representations: Comprehending corrections. In H. van Oostendorp & S. R. Goldman (Eds.), The construction of mental representations during reading (pp. 303–318). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Johnson, M. K., Hashtroudi, S., & Lindsay, S. D. (1993). Source monitoring. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3–28.
Jou, J., & Foreman, J. (2007). Transfer of learning in avoiding false memory: The roles of warning, immediate feedback, and incentive. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60, 877–896.
Kassin, S. M., & Sukel, H. (1997). Coerced confessions and the jury: An experimental test of the “harmless error” rule. Law & Human Behavior, 21, 27–46.
Kintsch, W., & Greene, E. (1978). The role of culture-specific schemata in the comprehension and recall of stories. Discourse Processes, 1, 1–13.
Kull, S., Ramsay, C., & Lewis, E. (2003). Misperceptions, the media, and the Iraq War. Political Science Quarterly, 118, 569–598.
Landau, J. D., & von Glahn, N. (2004). Warnings reduce the magnitude of the imagination inflation effect. American Journal of Psychology, 117, 579–593.
Landler, M. (2008, December 26). Dollar shift: Chinese pockets filled as Americans’ emptied. The New York Times. Online version, titled “Chinese savings helped inflate American bubble,” retrieved November 11, 2009, from www.nytimes.com/2008/12/26/world/ asia/26addiction.html?_r=1
Lewandowsky, S., Stritzke, W. G. K., Oberauer, K., & Morales, M. (2005). Memory for fact, fiction and misinformation: The Iraq War 2003. Psychological Science, 16, 190–195.
Lewandowsky, S., Stritzke, W. G. K., Oberauer, K., & Morales, M. (2009). Misinformation and the “War on Terror”: When memory turns fiction into fact. In W. G. K. Stritzke, S. Lewandowsky, D. Denemark, J. Clare, & F. Morgan (Eds.), Terrorism and torture: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 179–203). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lindsay, D. S., & Johnson, M. K. (1989). The eyewitness suggestibility effect and memory for source. Memory & Cognition, 17, 349–358.
Loftus, E. F. (1975). Leading questions and the eyewitness report. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 560–572.
Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 13, 585–589.
Marini, A., Boewe, A., Caltagirone, C., & Carlomagno, S. (2005). Age-related differences in the production of textual descriptions. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 34, 439–463.
McCabe, D. P., & Smith, A. D. (2002). The effect of warnings on false memories in young and older adults. Memory & Cognition, 30, 1065–1077.
McCloskey, M., & Zaragoza, M. (1985). Misleading postevent information and memory for events: Arguments and evidence against memory impairment hypotheses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 114, 1–16.
McDermott, K. B. (1996). The persistence of false memories in list recall. Journal of Memory & Language, 35, 212–230.
McDermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L., III (1998). Attempting to avoid illusory memories: Robust false recognition of associates persists under conditions of explicit warnings and immediate testing. Journal of Memory & Language, 39, 508–520.
Neuschatz, J. S., Benoit, G. E., & Payne, D. G. (2003). Effective warnings in the Deese/Roediger— McDermott false-memory paradigm: The role of identifiability. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 29, 35–41.
Neuschatz, J. S., Payne, D. G., Lampinen, J. M., & Toglia, M. P. (2001). Assessing the effectiveness of warnings and the phenomenological characteristics of false memories. Memory, 9, 53–71.
Payne, B. K., Lambert, A. J., & Jacoby, L. L. (2002). Best laid plans: Effects of goals on accessibility bias and cognitive control in race-based misperceptions of weapons. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 384–396.
Peters, M. J. V., Jelicic, M., Gorski, B., Sijstermans, K., Giesbrecht, T., & Merckelbach, H. (2008). The corrective effects of warning on false memories in the DRM paradigm are limited to full attention conditions. Acta Psychologica, 129, 308–314.
Rantzen, A., & Markham, R. (1992). The reversed eyewitness testimony design: More evidence for source monitoring. Journal of General Psychology, 119, 37–43.
Rapp, D. N., & Kendeou, P. (2007). Revising what readers know: Updating text representations during narrative comprehension. Memory & Cognition, 35, 2019–2032.
Roediger, H. L., III, & McDermott, K. B. (1995). Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 21, 803–814.
Rosenthal, R., Rosnow, R. L., & Rubin, D. B. (2000). Contrasts and effect sizes in behavioral research: A correlational approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Saywitz, K. J., & Moan-Hardie, S. (1994). Reducing the potential for distortion of childhood memories. Consciousness & Cognition, 3, 408–425.
Schul, Y., & Manzury, F. (1990). The effect of type of encoding and strength of discounting appeal on the success of ignoring an invalid testimony. European Journal of Social Psychology, 20, 337–349.
Schwarz, N., Sanna, L. J., Skurnik, I., & Yoon, C. (2007). Metacognitive experiences and the intricacies of setting people straight: Implications for debiasing and public information campaigns. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 127–161.
Seamon, J. G., Luo, C. R., Kopecky, J. J., Price, C. A., Rothschild, L., Fung, N. S., & Schwartz, M. A. (2002). Are false memories more difficult to forget than accurate memories? The effect of retention interval on recall and recognition. Memory & Cognition, 30, 1054–1064.
Seifert, C.M. (2002). The continued influence of misinformation in memory: What makes a correction effective? In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 41, pp. 265–292). San Diego: Academic Press.
van Oostendorp, H. (1996). Updating situation models derived from newspaper articles. Medienpsychologie, 8, 21–33.
van Oostendorp, H., & Bonebakker, C. (1999). Difficulties in updating mental representations during reading news reports. In H. van Oostendorp & S. R. Goldman (Eds.), The construction of mental representations during reading (pp. 319–339). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Warren, A., Hulse-Trotter, K., & Tubbs, E. C. (1991). Inducing resistance to suggestibility in children. Law & Human Behavior, 15, 273–285.
Watson, J. M., McDermott, K. B., & Balota, D. A. (2004). Attempting to avoid false memories in the Deese/Roediger— McDermott paradigm: Assessing the combined influence of practice and warnings in young and old adults. Memory & Cognition, 32, 135–141.
Westerberg, C. E., & Marsolek, C. J. (2006). Do instructional warnings reduce false recognition? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 97–114.
Whittlesea, B. W. A., & Williams, L. D. (2001). The discrepancy-attribution hypothesis: I. The heuristic basis of feelings of familiarity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 27, 3–13.
Wilkes, A. L., & Leatherbarrow, M. (1988). Editing episodic memory following the identification of error. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 40A, 361–387.
Wilkes, A. L., & Reynolds, D. J. (1999). On certain limitations accompanying readers’ interpretations of corrections in episodic text. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 52A, 165–183.
Wilson, T. D., & Brekke, N. (1994). Mental contamination and mental correction: Unwanted influences on judgments and evaluations. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 117–142.
Zaragoza, M. S., & Koshmider, J. W. (1989). Misled subjects may know more than their performance implies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 15, 246–255.
Zaragoza, M. S., & Lane, S. M. (1994). Source misattributions and the suggestibility of eyewitness memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 20, 934–945.
Preparation of the present article was facilitated by a Discovery Grant and an Australian Professorial Fellowship from the Australian Research Council to S.L.
About this article
Cite this article
Ecker, U.K.H., Lewandowsky, S. & Tang, D.T.W. Explicit warnings reduce but do not eliminate the continued influence of misinformation. Mem Cogn 38, 1087–1100 (2010). https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.38.8.1087