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The Power of the Truth Bias: False Information Affects Memory and Judgment Even in the Absence of Distraction

Truth bias is the tendency to believe information whether or not it is true. According to a prominent account, this tendency results from limited cognitive resources. We presented participants true and false statements organized in coherent narratives, and distracted half of the participants while they processed the statements. Our findings suggest that explicitly false statements are misremembered as true and affect participants' judgments regardless of cognitive load (Experiments 1 & 2). Experiment 3 replicates a distraction-independent truth bias in a paradigm with an equal number of true and false statements, suggesting that the truth bias does not depend on the frequency of true versus false statements. Experiment 4 suggests that when the statements are presented in lists, as it often happens in the relevant literature, the truth bias is significantly underscored. Taken together, our results strongly support that the truth bias may be stronger than suggested by previous studies.

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