False memories for fake news during Ireland's abortion referendum

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Murphy, Gillian
Loftus, Elizabeth F.
Hofstein Grady, Rebecca
Levine, Linda J.
Greene, Ciara M.
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The current study examined false memories in the week preceding the 2018 Irish abortion referendum. Participants (N = 3,140) viewed six news stories concerning campaign events—two fabricated and four authentic. Almost half of the sample reported a false memory for at least one fabricated event, with more than one third of participants reporting a specific memory of the event. “Yes” voters (those in favor of legalizing abortion) were more likely than “no” voters to “remember” a fabricated scandal regarding the campaign to vote “no,” and “no” voters were more likely than “yes” voters to “remember” a fabricated scandal regarding the campaign to vote “yes.” This difference was particularly strong for voters of low cognitive ability. A subsequent warning about possible misinformation slightly reduced rates of false memories but did not eliminate these effects. This study suggests that voters in a real-world political campaign are most susceptible to forming false memories for fake news that aligns with their beliefs, in particular if they have low cognitive ability.
False memory , Politics , Fake news , Misinformation , Bias , Open data , Open materials
Murphy, G., Loftus, E. F., Grady, R. H., Levine, L. J. and Greene, C. M. (2019) 'False Memories for Fake News During Ireland’s Abortion Referendum', Psychological Science, doi: 10.1177/0956797619864887
© 2019 the authors. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. The published version of record is available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797619864887