Testing the Role of Source Credibility on Memory for Inferences
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Research shows that people have difficulty forgetting inferences they make after reading a passage, even when the information that the inferences are based on is later known to be untrue. This dissertation examined the effects of these inferences on memory for political information and tested if the credibility of the source of the correction influences whether people use the correction, or continue relying on the original information when making inferences. According to source credibility theory, there are two main factors that contribute to credibility, expertise and trustworthiness. Experiment 1 examined credibility as a function of both expertise and trustworthiness. The results from this experiment showed that having a correction from a source who is high on both factors significantly decreased the use of the original information. Experiment 2 examined credibility as a function of expertise. The Experiment 2 results showed no significant decrease in participants' use of the original information, if a correction came from a source that was simply more expert (but not more trustworthy) than another source. This finding suggests that source expertise alone is not sufficient to reduce reliance on the original information. Experiment 3, which examined credibility as a function of trustworthiness, demonstrated that having a highly trustworthy source does significantly decrease the use of the original information when making inferences. This study is the first to provide direct support for the hypothesis that making the source of a correction more believable decreases use of the original discredited information when making inferences.
Guillory, Jimmeka Joy (2011). Testing the Role of Source Credibility on Memory for Inferences. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from