Readers frequently encounter inaccuracies in texts that contradict what they should know to be true. The current project examined readers' moment-by-moment processing of inaccuracies and whether any difficulty with such material is reduced when readers are already familiar with accurate versions of that content. In two experiments, participants read stories that either accurately or inaccurately described the outcome of a well-known historic event. Preceding story contexts supported accurate outcomes or introduced suspense to create uncertainty about outcome likelihoods. During initial readings, participants took longer to read inaccurate than accurate outcomes. But this difficulty was substantially reduced when suspenseful contexts called into question the likelihood of well-known outcomes. Similar reading patterns emerged when participants read the exact same material after week-long and 5-minute delays. These results indicate that biasing contexts can influence readers' processing of inaccuracies for even familiar events. Rereading proves insufficient for encouraging reliance on accurate prior knowledge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)