Correcting false information in memory: manipulating the strength of misinformation encoding and its retraction

Psychon Bull Rev. 2011 Jun;18(3):570-8. doi: 10.3758/s13423-011-0065-1.


Information that is presumed to be true at encoding but later on turns out to be false (i.e., misinformation) often continues to influence memory and reasoning. In the present study, we investigated how the strength of encoding and the strength of a later retraction of the misinformation affect this continued influence effect. Participants read an event report containing misinformation and a subsequent correction. Encoding strength of the misinformation and correction were orthogonally manipulated either via repetition (Experiment 1) or by imposing a cognitive load during reading (Experiment 2). Results suggest that stronger retractions are effective in reducing the continued influence effects associated with strong misinformation encoding, but that even strong retractions fail to eliminate continued influence effects associated with relatively weak encoding. We present a simple computational model based on random sampling that captures this effect pattern, and conclude that the continued influence effect seems to defy most attempts to eliminate it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Processes*
  • Mental Recall