Misinformed and unaware? Metacognition and the influence of inaccurate information.

Nikita A. Salovich*, David N. Rapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The current study investigated the role of metacognition with respect to the consequences of exposures to inaccurate information. Previous work has consistently demonstrated that exposures to inaccuracies can confuse people and even encourage reliance on the falsehoods. We specifically examined whether people are aware of their likelihood of being influenced by inaccurate information, and whether engaging in metacognitive reflection is effective at reducing this influence. In three experiments, participants read a story containing false assertions about the world. In Experiment 1, we compared participants’ estimated resistance to inaccurate information against the degree to which their subsequent judgments actually reflected an influence of previously read inaccuracies. Participants were generally unaware of their susceptibility to inaccurate information, demonstrated by a lack of calibration between estimated and actual resistance. Their judgments consistently revealed an influence of previously read inaccuracies. In Experiment 2, we applied a metacognitive reflection task intended to encourage evaluation while reading. Participants who completed this task made fewer judgment errors after having read inaccurate statements than did participants who did not engage in reflection. Experiment 3 replicated these effects with a larger sample, and showed benefits of reflection for calibrations between people’s estimated resistance and their actual performance. The accumulated findings highlight the importance of metacognitive considerations for understanding and addressing oft-reported, problematic effects of exposures to inaccuracies.


  • evaluation
  • inaccurate information
  • metacognition
  • text comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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