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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1993 Aug;65(2):221-33.

You can't not believe everything you read.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin 78712.

Abstract

Can people comprehend assertions without believing them? Descartes (1644/1984) suggested that people can and should, whereas Spinoza (1677/1982) suggested that people should but cannot. Three experiments support the hypothesis that comprehension includes an initial belief in the information comprehended. Ss were exposed to false information about a criminal defendant (Experiments 1 and 2) or a college student (Experiment 3). Some Ss were exposed to this information while under load (Experiments 1 and 2) or time pressure (Experiment 3). Ss made judgments about the target (sentencing decisions or liking judgments). Both load and time pressure caused Ss to believe the false information and to use it in making consequential decisions about the target. In Spinozan terms, both manipulations prevented Ss from "unbelieving" the false information they automatically believed during comprehension.

PMID:
8366418
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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