Scientists discover the truth behind Colbert's 'truthiness'
Trusting research over their guts, scientists in New Zealand and Canada examined the phenomenon Stephen Colbert, comedian and news satirist, calls "truthiness"the feeling that something is true. In four different experiments they discovered that people believe claims are true, regardless of whether they actually are true, when a decorative photograph appears alongside the claim. The work is published online in the Springer journal, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
"We wanted to examine how the kinds of photos people see every daythe ones that decorate newspaper or TV headlines, for examplemight produce "truthiness," said lead investigator Eryn J. Newman of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. "We were really surprised by what we found."
In a series of four experiments in both New Zealand and Canada, Newman and colleagues showed people a series of claims such as, "The liquid metal inside a thermometer is magnesium" and asked them to agree or disagree that each claim was true. In some cases, the claim appeared with a decorative photograph that didn't reveal if the claim was actually truesuch as a thermometer. Other claims appeared alone. When a decorative photograph appeared with the claim, people were more likely to agree that the claim was true, regardless of whether it was actually true.
Across all the experiments, the findings fit with the idea that photos might help people conjure up images and ideas about the claim more easily than if the claim appeared by itself. "We know that when it's easy for people to bring information to mind, it 'feels' right," said Newman.
The research has important implications for situations in which people encounter decorative photos, such as in the media or in education. "Decorative photos grab people's attention," Newman said. "Our research suggests that these photos might have unintended consequences, leading people to accept information because of their feelings rather than the facts."
More information: Newman EJ et al (2012). Nonprobative photographs (or words) inflate truthiness. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review; DOI 10.3758/s13423-012-0292-0
Journal reference: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Provided by Springer
- Taking nothing at face value Jul 09, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Is there a hidden bias against creativity? Nov 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Voice disorder productivity losses comparable to chronic diseases Apr 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Facebook users' app use contradicts their stated security concerns, study finds Jul 22, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- I'm a believer: Some product claims work better than others Dec 15, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
There is a link between use of anabolic-androgenic steroids and reduced mental health later in life. This is the main conclusion of a new study on elite male strength athletes that researchers from the University of Gothenburg ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Bullying because of perceived sexual orientation is prevalent among school-aged youths, according to a study led by Donald Patrick, professor of health services at the UW School of Public ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with the most severe and dangerous form of chronic anorexia are more likely to make a significant improvement towards recovery and stay in therapy if traditional psychological treatments are re-focused ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Patients with treatment-resistant major depression saw dramatic improvement in their illness after treatment with ketamine, an anesthetic, according to the largest ketamine clinical trial to-date led by researchers from the ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 19, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (6) | 1 |
A new study conducted by researchers at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center found men diagnosed as children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as likely to be obese in a 33-year ...
4 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new computer model could help scientists predict when a particular strain of avian influenza might become infectious from bird to human, according to a report to be published in the International Journal Data Mining an ...
32 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have mapped the significance of heredity for common forms of atherosclerotic disease. No studies have previously examined whether different forms of the disease share heredity.
29 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
It is impossible to predict the evolution of China's human H7N9 bird flu outbreak as researchers are still trying to understand the source of human transmission, the head of the World Health Organisation said Monday.
12 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Federal health regulators say an experimental insomnia drug from Merck can help patients fall asleep, but it also carries worrisome side effects, including daytime drowsiness and suicidal thinking.
25 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Women are less likely than men to receive care in a trauma center after severe injury, according to a new study of almost 100,000 Canadian patients.
7 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0