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When people evaluate claims, they often rely on what comedian Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness," or subjective feelings of truth. In four experiments, we examined the impact of nonprobative information on truthiness. In Experiments 1A and 1B, people saw familiar and unfamiliar celebrity names and, for each, quickly responded "true" or "false" to the (between-subjects) claim "This famous person is alive" or "This famous person is dead." Within subjects, some of the names appeared with a photo of the celebrity engaged in his or her profession, whereas other names appeared alone. For unfamiliar celebrity names, photos increased the likelihood that the subjects would judge the claim to be true. Moreover, the same photos inflated the subjective truth of both the "alive" and "dead" claims, suggesting that photos did not produce an "alive bias" but rather a "truth bias." Experiment 2 showed that photos and verbal information similarly inflated truthiness, suggesting that the effect is not peculiar to photographs per se. Experiment 3 demonstrated that nonprobative photos can also enhance the truthiness of general knowledge claims (e.g., Giraffes are the only mammals that cannot jump). These effects add to a growing literature on how nonprobative information can inflate subjective feelings of truth.
School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand, 6140.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Psychonomic bulletin & review
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Still images produced from radiation-sensitive materials (sensitive to light, electron beams, or nuclear radiation), generally by means of the chemical action of light on a sensitive film, paper, glass, or metal. Photographs may be positive or negative, opaque or transparent.
A test to determine the lowest sound intensity level at which fifty percent or more of the spondaic test words (words of two syllables having equal stress) are repeated correctly.
A reference book containing a list of words - usually in alphabetical order - giving information about form, pronunciation, etymology, grammar, and meaning. A foreign-language dictionary is an alphabetical list of words of one language with their meaning and equivalents in another language.
Making measurements by the use of stereoscopic photographs.
Automotive safety devices consisting of a bag designed to inflate upon collision and prevent passengers from pitching forward. (American Heritage Dictionary, 1982)