Making the truth stick and the myth fade: Lessons from cognitive psychology

Norbert Schwarz, William D Leach, Eryn Newman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    * Note: This post includes the text accepted for publication, which was subsequently highly copy-edited to fit the magazine format of the journal. ** Erroneous beliefs are difficult to correct. Worse, popular correction strategies may backfire and further increase the spread and acceptance of misinformation. People evaluate the truth of a statement by assessing its compatibility with other things they believe, its internal consistency, amount of supporting evidence, acceptance by others, and the credibility of the source. To do so, they can draw on relevant details (an effortful analytic strategy) or attend to the subjective experience of processing fluency (a less effortful intuitive strategy). Throughout, fluent processing facilitates acceptance of the statement when thoughts flow smoothly, people nod along. Correction strategies that make false information more fluent (e.g., through repetition or pictures) can therefore increase its later acceptance. We review recent research and offer recommendations for more effective correction strategies.,
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)85-95
    JournalBehavioral Science & Policy Association
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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