The Truth Effect

“Repeated information is often perceived as more truthful than new information. This finding is known as the illusory truth effect, and it is typically thought to occur because repetition increases processing fluency. Because fluency and truth are frequently correlated in the real world, people learn to use processing fluency as a marker for truthfulness. Although the illusory truth effect is a robust phenomenon, almost all studies examining it have used three or fewer repetitions. To address this limitation, we conducted two experiments using a larger number of repetitions. In Experiment 1, we showed participants trivia statements up to 9 times and in Experiment 2 statements were shown up to 27 times. Later, participants rated the truthfulness of the previously seen statements and of new statements. In both experiments, we found that perceived truthfulness increased as the number of repetitions increased. However, these truth rating increases were logarithmic in shape. The largest increase in perceived truth came from encountering a statement for the second time, and beyond this were incrementally smaller increases in perceived truth for each additional repetition. These findings add to our theoretical understanding of the illusory truth effect and have applications for advertising, politics, and the propagation of ‘fake news.'”

The effects of repetition frequency on the illusory truth effect via Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

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