Misinformation – information that is false or inaccurate – can continue to influence people’s memory and reasoning even after it has been corrected. Researchers have termed this the continued influence effect (CIE). However, to date, research has focused exclusively on examining the CIE in a single polarity, namely the ongoing effect of initially affirmed material that is later negated. No research has yet examined how reliance on outdated information may be affected if this polarity is reversed, that is, if initially-negated information is reinstated. It also remains unclear how participants’ pre-existing beliefs may impact the acceptance of a correction, with prior evidence showing conflicting results. To investigate these questions, across two experiments we presented participants scoring high versus low on measures of relevant attitudes with fictional news reports that contained a piece of critical attitude-relevant information. This information was either true throughout, false throughout, initially-affirmed then retracted, or initially-negated then reinstated. Participants’ reliance on the critical information was subsequently measured with the use of inferential-reasoning items. Reinstatement of initially-negated information was insufficient to bring reliance on that information to a baseline level – that is, reliance on information presented as true throughout was greater than reliance on negated and then reinstated information. This result was symmetrical with the conventional CIE observed with a reversed polarity. The effect of participants’ pre-existing attitudes on continued reliance was equivocal. The results therefore suggest that the CIE is not contingent on polarity, raising questions about the cognitive mechanisms underlying the effect.
- Belief updating
- Continued influence