The Illusory Truth bias, also labeled as the illusory truth effect and reiteration effect, is a cognitive bias that refers to the tendency for people to believe a piece of information is true simply because they have heard it before. Even if the information is false or inaccurate, hearing it multiple times can make it seem more believable.
The Illusory Truth bias may have serious implications in various areas of life, from personal beliefs and attitudes to politics and public opinion. Understanding the illusory truth bias and how to avoid it can help us make more informed and accurate decisions.
Repetition magically makes any statement truer, whether it really is valid or not!
Illusory truth bias is a key element in advertising and is used massively. Advertisers often use the same slogans or phrases repeatedly in their ads to make them more memorable and persuasive. Even if the claims in the ad are false or exaggerated, people may still believe them simply because they have heard them so many times. Think of a toothpaste commercial that claims to remove 99% of plaque.” Even if this claim is not entirely accurate or is exaggerated, repeated exposure to the claim can lead consumers to believe that it is true simply because they have heard it so many times.
In politics, Illusory truth bias is also key to conveying messages and building beliefs. Politicians may repeat false or misleading statements in their campaigns to sway public opinion. This can lead to a false sense of credibility and legitimacy, even if the statements have been fact-checked and proven to be untrue.
One famous example of a false claim is when Donald Trump said that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history. This was easily debunked by photographs and crowd-size estimates, yet he continued to repeat the claim.
Another example of a false claim made by Trump was the suggestion that wind turbines cause cancer. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim, but he repeated it several times during his presidency.
The illusory truth bias can also manifest in personal beliefs and attitudes. For example, if someone has a negative view of a particular group or ethnicity, hearing negative stereotypes and rumors about that group repeatedly can make those beliefs seem true, even if they are unfounded.
Another example, let’s say that you have a friend who always complains about their job and talks about how unhappy they are. Over time, as you continue to hear this message repeated, you may begin to believe that their job is really as bad as they say it is, even if you have no direct experience with the job yourself.
AVOIDING THE ILLUSORY TRUTH BIAS
One way to avoid illusory truth bias is to fact-check information and seek out multiple sources. This can help to uncover inaccuracies and biases in information and provide a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the topic at hand.
Another strategy is to be aware of our own biases and how they may affect our perception of information. Recognizing that we may have pre-existing beliefs or attitudes that could influence our interpretation of information can help us to approach information with a more critical and open-minded perspective.
Finally, critical thinking and skepticism can be powerful tools in avoiding illusory truth bias. Asking questions, seeking out evidence, and evaluating information critically can help to build a more accurate and informed understanding of the world around us.