Explicit warnings reduce but do not eliminate the continued influence of misinformation

Abstract

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giving detailed information about the continued influence effect (CIE)—succeeded in reducing the continued reliance on outdated information but did not eliminate it.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.

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Correspondence to Ullrich K. H. Ecker or Stephan Lewandowsky.

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Preparation of the present article was facilitated by a Discovery Grant and an Australian Professorial Fellowship from the Australian Research Council to S.L.

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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

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Keywords

  • False Memory
  • False Recognition
  • Mock Juror
  • Inference Score
  • Misinformation Effect