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The rational continued influence of misinformation

Desai, Saoirse Connor, Madsen, Jens and Pilditch, Toby (2020) The rational continued influence of misinformation. Cognition, 205. ISSN 0010-0277

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104453


Misinformation has become an increasingly topical field of research. Studies on the ‘Continued Influence Effect’ (CIE) show that misinformation continues to influence reasoning despite subsequent retraction. Current explanatory theories of the CIE tacitly assume continued reliance on misinformation is the consequence of a biased process. In the present work, we show why this perspective may be erroneous. Using a Bayesian formalism, we conceptualize the CIE as a scenario involving contradictory testimonies and incorporate the previously overlooked factors of the temporal dependence (misinformation precedes its retraction) between, and the perceived reliability of, misinforming and retracting sources. When considering such factors, we show the CIE to have normative backing. We demonstrate that, on aggregate, lay reasoners (N = 101) intuitively endorse the necessary assumptions that demarcate CIE as a rational process, still exhibit the standard effect, and appropriately penalize the reliability of contradicting sources. Individual-level analyses revealed that although many participants endorsed assumptions for a rational CIE, very few were able to execute the complex model update that the Bayesian model entails. In sum, we provide a novel illustration of the pervasive influence of misinformation as the consequence of a rational process.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2020 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2020 13:54
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:54

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