Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Reducing suggestibility to additive versus contradictory misinformation in younger and older adults via divided attention and/or explicit error detection

Summary Younger and older adults are more suggestible to additive (not originally included) versus contradictory (a change to the original) misleading details. Only suggestibility to contradictory misinformation can be reduced with explicit instructions to detect errors during exposure to misinformation. The present work examines how to reduce suggestibility to additive misinformation and whether attentional resources at exposure similarly influence additive and contradictory misinformation. During the misleading question phase, attention and error detection were manipulated. Participants answered the questions under full or divided attention, and some were instructed to mark detected errors. On the final test, additive misinformation was endorsed more than contradictory misinformation despite equivalent error detection. However, dividing attention reduced suggestibility for additive misinformation, whereas successful error detection showed evidence of reducing contradictory misinformation, providing further evidence for the dissociation between these types of misinformation. Additionally, dividing younger adults' attention did not consistently result in a pattern paralleling older adults.

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