Branwen Morgan Monday, 11 July 2011
The effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated, even after it has been corrected numerous times, say Australian psychologists.
Assistant Professor Ullrich Ecker and colleagues from The University of Western Australia outline their findings in a recent article published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review .
Ecker says this effect, known as 'continued influence effect of misinformation', occurs even if the retraction itself is understood, believed, and remembered.
Ecker says they have also studied a number of other factors such as strongly-held beliefs (worldview) and emotion on the continued influence effect.
While emotion was found to have no significant effect, someone with a strong opinion is unlikely to change it.
"If you believe in something strongly and it's really important to you as a person [your worldview] you will cling to that no matter what," Ecker remarks.
He says one example of this is climate change.
"People who believe strongly in the free market, those opposed to any kind of regulations … will be much more likely to continue to believe humans are not causing climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are causing climate change."