Amazing Stories: Acquiring and Avoiding Inaccurate Information From Fiction

David N. Rapp, Scott R. Hinze, Daniel G. Slaten, William S. Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Authors of fiction need not provide accurate accounts of the world, which might generate concern about the kinds of information people can acquire from narratives. Research has demonstrated that readers liberally encode and rely upon the information provided in fictional stories. To date, materials used to demonstrate these effects have largely included stories taking place in real-world settings. We tested whether readers might exhibit more conservative use of information from stories with unrealistic settings and characers, as in science fiction and fantasy genres. In two experiments, participants read texts containing accurate, misleading, or neutral information, embedded in realistic or unrealistic stories. They subsequently completed a general knowledge test that included probes for story information. Unrealistic stories, in comparison to realistic stories, led to reductions in the use of misinformation. Source monitoring judgments suggest explanations for these reductions. The findings offer intriguing possibilities for encouraging readers' critical evaluation of text content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-74
Number of pages25
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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