The effect of repeated exposure, picture presence and context reinstatement on truth judgments
With the spread of fake news on social media platforms, it becomes critical to unveil the factors that might influence our truth judgments. Previous research showed that repeated exposure and picture presence can bias individuals to believe that the information is true. However, when frequent social media postings are taken into consideration, there are three issues that need to be specified further in order to understand the underlying mechanisms of our truth judgments. The first is to investigate whether repeated exposure of pictures increases truth ratings or not. Second, it is important to uncover the joint effects of repetition and picture presence on truth judgments as it can be frequently seen in social media postings. Third, little is known about how a detail change (e.g., accompanying picture) in repeated information is reflected on truth judgments. In a series of three experiments, we aimed to find an answer for the abovementioned questions. In Experiment 1, we tested whether prior exposure to pictures would increase truth ratings for the associated statements. The repetition of pictures did not increase truth ratings but their mere presence did. In Experiment 2, we explored the simultaneous effect of repetition and picture presence on truth judgments. Contrary to Experiment 1, repetition of statements increased truth ratings but the presence of pictures did not produce a significant change. Finally, Experiment 3 aimed to understand whether a context change (e.g., picture details) in the repeated information would affect truth ratings or not. As a manipulation, either a detail was changed in the accompanying picture (changed context) or it was repeatedly exposed with the same picture (reinstated context). The results showed that statements with reinstating context were given higher truth ratings than statements with changed context. The results and the future research are discussed in the context of the truthiness effect, the illusory truth effect and the context reinstatement.