The Consequences of Reading Inaccurate Information

David Neil Rapp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We are regularly confronted with statements that are inaccurate, sometimes obviously so. Unfortunately, people can be influenced by and rely upon inaccurate information, engaging in less critical evaluation than might be hoped. Empirical studies have consistently demonstrated that even when people should know better, reading inaccurate information can affect their performance on subsequent tasks. What encourages people’s encoding and use of false statements? The current article outlines how reliance on inaccurate information is a predictable consequence of the routine cognitive processes associated with memory, problem solving, and comprehension. This view helps identify conditions under which inaccurate information is more or less likely to influence subsequent decisions. These conditions are informative in the consideration of information-design approaches and instructional methods intended to support critical thinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-285
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • learning
  • memory
  • misinformation
  • reading comprehension
  • text processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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