How Stories in Memory Perpetuate the Continued Influence of False Information

Anne Hamby, Ullrich Ecker, David Brinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


People often encounter information that they subsequently learn is false. Past research has shown that people sometimes continue to use this misinformation in their reasoning, even if they remember that the information is false, which researchers refer to as the continued influence effect. The current work shows that the continued influence effect depends on the stories people have in memory: corrected misinformation was found to have a stronger effect on people's beliefs than information that was topically related to the story if it helped to provide a causal explanation of a story they had read previously. We argue this effect occurs because information that can fill a causal “gap” in a story enhances comprehension of the story event, which allows people to build a complete (if inaccurate) event model that they prefer over an accurate but incomplete event model. This effect is less likely to occur for stories in memory that end in a negative way, presumably because people are more motivated to accurately understand negative outcome events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-259
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date7 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


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