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Repeating a Lie Frequently Can Create an Illusion Of Truth


Updated: November 1, 2016, 7:58 AM IST
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Repeating a Lie Frequently Can Create an Illusion Of Truth
This image is for representation purpose only. (Image Courtesy: Reuters)

New York: Repeating statements regardless of whether they are true or not may present it to be more true, a study has found.

According to researchers, repeated lies have higher truth ratings than new statements in a phenomenon called the illusory truth effect.

"If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth. And if you look around yourself, you may start to think that everyone from advertisers to politicians are taking advantage of this foible of human psychology," said Lisa K. Fazio, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, US.

Repetition may be one way that insidious misconceptions, such as the belief that vitamin C prevents the common cold, enter our knowledge base.

"Repeated statements are easier to process, and subsequently perceived to be more truthful, than new statements," Fazio added.

In the study, the researchers used paired true and un-true statements, but also split their items according to how likely participants were to know the truth.

The prevailing assumption has been that knowledge constrains this effect i.e., repeating the statement "The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth" will not make you believe it.

However, contrary to this, illusory truth effects occurred even when participants knew better, Fazio said.

The study showed that participants sometimes rely on fluency even if knowledge is also available to them.

The participants demonstrated knowledge neglect, or the failure to rely on stored knowledge, in the face of fluent processing experiences.

First Published: November 1, 2016, 7:58 AM IST
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