Date of Graduation

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

William Levine

Committee Member

James Lampinen

Second Committee Member

Darya Zabelina

Keywords

Cognition, Memory, Misinformation effect, Psychology, Source reliability

Abstract

Previous research established that readers learn both accurate and inaccurate information from fictional stories. The current study explored factors that might moderate the impact of misinformation. Participants read fictional stories that contain three assertions; the first two were labeled as set-up assertions, and the last were labeled as the critical assertion. First, there was a manipulation of plausibility of information within the stories by presenting either assertions with truthful information, assertions with small lies (plausible misinformation), or assertions with big lies (implausible misinformation). Second, there was manipulation of reliability of the fictional stories by presenting big lies or truthful information in the set-up assertions before the critical assertion. Each story had two set-up assertions (either both are big lies, or both are truthful) that were presented prior to the critical assertion. We expected to replicate many existing findings found within the misinformation literature. Of most interest in this study, we observed being presented with misinformation led to lower accuracy and being presented with subtle misinformation led to higher production of that misinformation on the general-knowledge test. The setup assertion manipulation interacted with the type of critical assertion in one way: When the critical assertion was presented accurately in a story, the setup assertions mattered a lot in that reliable narrators presenting true critical assertions and led to greater accuracy on the general knowledge test than when unreliable narrators presented this information.

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