Pilgrims sailing the Titanic: Plausibility effects on memory for misinformation
People rely on information they read even when it is inaccurate (Marsh, Meade, & Roediger, Journal of Memory and Language 49:519–536, 2003), but how ubiquitous is this phenomenon? In two experiments, we investigated whether this tendency to encode and rely on inaccuracies from text might be influenced by the plausibility of misinformation. In Experiment 1, we presented stories containing inaccurate plausible statements (e.g., “The Pilgrims’ ship was the Godspeed”), inaccurate implausible statements (e.g., . . . the Titanic), or accurate statements (e.g., . . . the Mayflower). On a subsequent test of general knowledge, participants relied significantly less on implausible than on plausible inaccuracies from the texts but continued to rely on accurate information. In Experiment 2, we replicated these results with the addition of a think-aloud procedure to elicit information about readers’ noticing and evaluative processes for plausible and implausible misinformation. Participants indicated more skepticism and less acceptance of implausible than of plausible inaccuracies. In contrast, they often failed to notice, completely ignored, and at times even explicitly accepted the misinformation provided by plausible lures. These results offer insight into the conditions under which reliance on inaccurate information occurs and suggest potential mechanisms that may underlie reported misinformation effects.
KeywordsMemory False memory Text processing
Scott R. Hinze, Daniel G. Slaten, William S. Horton, Ryan Jenkins, and David N. Rapp, Northwestern University.
Scott R. Hinze is now in the Psychology Department at Virginia Wesleyan College.
Direct all correspondence to Scott Hinze, Department of Psychology, 1584 Wesleyan Dr., Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, VA, 23502. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 757-455-3288.
- Afflerbach, P. (2002). Verbal reports and protocol analysis. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. III, pp. 87–103). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Appel, M., & Richter, T. (2007). Persuasive effects of fictional narratives increase over time. Media Psychology, 10, 113–134.Google Scholar
- Chaiken, S., Liberman, A., & Eagly, A. H. (1989). Heuristic and systematic processing within and beyond the persuasion context. In J. S. Uleman & J. A. Barch (Eds.), Unintended thought (pp. 212–252). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Coté, N., & Goldman, S. R. (1999). Building representations of informational text: Evidence from children’s think-aloud protocols. In H. van Oostendorp & S. R. Goldman (Eds.), The construction of mental representations during reading (pp. 169–193). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Gallo, D. A. (2004). Using recall to reduce false recognition: Diagnostic and disqualifying monitoring. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 30, 120–128.Google Scholar
- Gerrig, R. J. (1993). Experiencing narrative worlds. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.Google Scholar
- Isberner, M. B., & Richter, T. (2013b). Comprehension and validation: Separable stages of information processing? A case for epistemic monitoring in language comprehension. In D. N. Rapp & J. Braasch (Eds.) Processing Inaccurate Information: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives from Cognitive Science and the Educational Sciences. MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Landauer, T., & Kintsch, W. (2006). Latent Semantic Analysis. [Online Computer Software]. Accessed May 9, 2013, from http://lsa.colorado.edu/
- Marsh, E. J., & Fazio, L. K. (2006). Learning errors from fiction: Difficulties in reducing reliance on fictional stories. Memory & Cognition, 34, 1141–1149.Google Scholar
- Marsh, E. J., & Umanath, S. (2013). Knowledge neglect: Failures to notice contradictions in stored knowledge. In D. N. Rapp & J. Braasch (Eds.) Processing Inaccurate Information: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives from Cognitive Science and the Educational Sciences. MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Myers, J. L., O’Brien, E. J., Albrecht, J. E., & Mason, R. A. (1994). Maintaining global coherence during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 876–886.Google Scholar
- Nelson, T. O., & Narens, L. (1980). Norms of 300 general-information questions: Accuracy of recall, latency of recall and feeling-of-knowing ratings. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 21, 403–420.Google Scholar
- Park, H., & Reder, L. M. (2004). Moses illusion: Implications for human cognition. In R. F. Pohl (Ed.), Cognitive illusions (pp. 275–291). Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Communication and persuasion. Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Pickering, M. J., & Traxler, M. J. (1998). Plausibility and recovery from garden paths: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 24, 940–961.Google Scholar
- Rapp, D. N., Hinze, S. R., Kohlhepp, K., & Ryskin, R. A. (2013a). Reducing reliance on inaccurate information. Memory & Cognition.Google Scholar
- Rapp, D. N., Hinze, S. R., Slaten, D. G., & Horton, W. S. (2013b). Amazing stories: Acquiring and avoiding inaccurate information from fiction. Discourse Processes.Google Scholar
- Sparks, J. R., & Rapp, D. N. (2011). Readers’ reliance on source credibility in the service of comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 37, 230–247.Google Scholar