Reader, interrupted: Do disruptions during encoding influence the use of inaccurate information?

Amalia M. Donovan*, Elias Theodosis, David N. Rapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


People routinely rely on inaccuracies they have read to complete subsequent tasks, even when they should already possess accurate prior knowledge. This problematic reliance maintains even when people are warned about potential inaccuracies prior to reading. In contrast, reductions have been observed when interventions target encoding of inaccuracies during reading. We investigated whether interruptions during encoding would similarly prove beneficial for disrupting attention to and memory for inaccuracies. Participants read a story containing both accurate and inaccurate assertions. Their readings were interrupted at 300-word intervals (Experiment 1) or immediately after each assertion (Experiments 2 and 3). After reading, participants judged the validity of statements summarizing the assertions. Interruptions were ineffective: Participants overall made more incorrect judgments after reading inaccurate than accurate assertions, at rates comparable with participants who read without interruption. These results help identify the mechanisms that underlie reliance on inaccuracies, and suggest useful targets for more effective interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-786
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • learning
  • memory
  • prior knowledge
  • reading comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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