Effects of false statements on visual perception hinge on social suggestibility

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2022 Aug;48(8):889-900. doi: 10.1037/xhp0001024. Epub 2022 Jun 6.


Verbal hints can bias perceptual decision-making, even when the information they provide is false. What makes individuals more or less susceptible to such influences, however, remains unclear. Here, we inquire whether suggestibility to social influence, a high-level trait measured by a standard suggestibility scale, could predict changes in perceptual judgments. We asked naive participants to indicate the dominant color in a series of stimuli after giving them a short, false verbal statement about which color would likely dominate. We found that this statement biased participants' perceptual judgments of the dominant color, as shown by a correlated shift of their discrimination performance, confidence judgments, and response times. Crucially, this effect was more pronounced in participants with higher levels of susceptibility to social influence. Together, these results indicate that social suggestibility can determine how much simple (albeit false) verbal hints influence perceptual judgments. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Judgment* / physiology
  • Visual Perception* / physiology