Does Mud Really Stick? No Evidence for Continued Influence of Misinformation on Newly Formed Person Impressions

Amy Mickelberg, Bradley Walker, Ullrich Ecker, Piers D L Howe, Andrew Perfors, Nicolas Fay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite robust evidence that misinformation continues to influence event-related reasoning after a clear retraction, evidence for the continued influence of misinformation on person impressions is mixed. Across four experiments, we investigated the impact of person-related misinformation and its correction on dynamic (moment-to-moment) impression formation. Participants formed an impression of a protagonist, “John”, based on a series of behaviour descriptions, including misinformation that was later retracted. Person impressions were recorded after the presentation of each behaviour description. As predicted, we found a strong effect of information valence on person impressions: negative misinformation had a greater impact on person impressions than positive misinformation (Experiments 1 and 2). Furthermore, in each experiment participants fully discounted the misinformation once retracted, regardless of whether the misinformation was negative or positive. This was true even when the other behaviour descriptions were congruent with (Experiment 2) or causally related to the retracted misinformation (Experiments 3 and 4). To test for generalisation, Experiment 4 used a different misinformation statement; it again showed no evidence for the continued influence of retracted misinformation on person impressions. Our findings indicate that person-related misinformation can be effectively discounted following a clear retraction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number92332
Pages (from-to)1037-1049
Number of pages13
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024


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