Investigating the Robustness of the Illusory Truth Effect Across Individual Differences in Cognitive Ability, Need for Cognitive Closure, and Cognitive Style

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2020 Feb;46(2):204-215. doi: 10.1177/0146167219853844. Epub 2019 Jun 10.


People are more inclined to believe that information is true if they have encountered it before. Little is known about whether this illusory truth effect is influenced by individual differences in cognition. In seven studies (combined N = 2,196), using both trivia statements (Studies 1-6) and partisan news headlines (Study 7), we investigate moderation by three factors that have been shown to play a critical role in epistemic processes: cognitive ability (Studies 1, 2, 5), need for cognitive closure (Study 1), and cognitive style, that is, reliance on intuitive versus analytic thinking (Studies 1, 3-7). All studies showed a significant illusory truth effect, but there was no evidence for moderation by any of the cognitive measures across studies. These results indicate that the illusory truth effect is robust to individual differences in cognitive ability, need for cognitive closure, and cognitive style.

Keywords: analytic thinking; cognitive ability; illusory truth effect; intuition; need for cognitive closure; reasoning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Intuition
  • Male
  • Thinking
  • Young Adult