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Cognition. 2018 Nov;180:238-245. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.07.015. Epub 2018 Aug 6.

Mnemonic accessibility affects statement believability: The effect of listening to others selectively practicing beliefs.

Author information

1
Princeton University, United States.
2
Princeton University, United States. Electronic address: acoman@princeton.edu.

Abstract

Belief endorsement is rarely a fully deliberative process. Oftentimes, one's beliefs are influenced by superficial characteristics of the belief evaluation experience. Here, we show that by manipulating the mnemonic accessibility of particular beliefs we can alter their believability. We use a well-established socio-cognitive paradigm (i.e., the social version of the selective practice paradigm) to increase the mnemonic accessibility of some beliefs and induce forgetting in others. We find that listening to a speaker selectively practicing beliefs results in changes in believability. Beliefs that are mentioned become mnemonically accessible and exhibit an increase in believability, while beliefs that are related to those mentioned exrience mnemonic suppression, which results in decreased believability. Importantly, the latter effect occurs regardless of whether the belief is scientifically accurate or inaccurate. Furthermore, beliefs that are endorsed with moderate-strength are particularly susceptible to mnemonically-induced believability changes. These findings, we argue, have the potential to guide interventions aimed at correcting misinformation in vulnerable communities.

KEYWORDS:

Belief endorsement; Belief rehearsal; Belief suppression; Misinformation; Rehearsal effect; Retrieval induced forgetting

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