Listening to Misinformation While Driving: Cognitive Load and the Effectiveness of (Repeated) Corrections

Jasmyne A. Sanderson, Vanessa Bowden, Briony Swire-Thompson, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker

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Corrected misinformation can continue to influence inferential reasoning. It has been suggested that such continued influence is partially driven by misinformation familiarity, and that corrections should therefore avoid repeating misinformation to avoid inadvertent strengthening of misconceptions. However, evidence for such familiarity backfire effects is scarce. We tested whether familiarity backfire may occur if corrections are processed under cognitive load. Although misinformation repetition may boost familiarity, load may impede integration of the correction, reducing its effectiveness and therefore allowing a backfire effect to emerge. Participants listened to corrections that repeated misinformation while in a driving simulator. Misinformation familiarity was manipulated through the number of corrections. Load was manipulated through a math task administered selectively during correction encoding. Multiple corrections were more effective than a single correction; cognitive load reduced correction effectiveness, with a single correction entirely ineffective under load. This provides further evidence against familiarity backfire effects and has implications for real-world debunking.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2022


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