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Relative judgment – Cognitive fluency... "Pics or it didn't happen": A study

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posted on Aug, 10 2012 @ 01:16 PM
It has always been bouncing around our social circle: "Pics or it didn't happen."

Some find it meaningful, since they demand to see whatever another person claims they saw. Some think it an obtuse approach towards accumulating information about sightings, experiences, or events... excluding personal accounts because their is no metric by which they can be measured....

So this article caught my eye: Pics and you assume it did happen

The study this OP is bringing you (DOI 10.3758/s13423-012-0292-0) is abstracted this way:

When people evaluate claims, they often rely on what comedian Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness,” or subjective feelings of truth. In four experiments, we examined the impact of nonprobative information on truthiness. In Experiments 1A and 1B, people saw familiar and unfamiliar celebrity names and, for each, quickly responded “true” or “false” to the (between-subjects) claim “This famous person is alive” or “This famous person is dead.” Within subjects, some of the names appeared with a photo of the celebrity engaged in his or her profession, whereas other names appeared alone. For unfamiliar celebrity names, photos increased the likelihood that the subjects would judge the claim to be true. Moreover, the same photos inflated the subjective truth of both the “alive” and “dead” claims, suggesting that photos did not produce an “alive bias” but rather a “truth bias.” Experiment 2 showed that photos and verbal information similarly inflated truthiness, suggesting that the effect is not peculiar to photographs per se. Experiment 3 demonstrated that nonprobative photos can also enhance the truthiness of general knowledge claims (e.g., Giraffes are the only mammals that cannot jump). These effects add to a growing literature on how nonprobative information can inflate subjective feelings of truth.

In the final analysis, the idea that simply presenting an image - whether factually relevant or not - will incline most people to assume it is true - or at least to be less inclined to disbelieve it.

Here on ATS, we often see this principle at work. In many instances a photograph is challenged because in today's digital age, imagery can be created - and the most skilled creators can often provide photographs which are virtually impossible to refute... yet, even when they are not so compelling... this study tells us that the presentation of the image and the presentation of the question around it, will exploit our tendency to want to agree.

Yet on ATS we are somewhat more discerning and focused on more reality and less theater. So perhaps we are not a typical audience to which one could apply this theory.

True or false: the macadamia nut is closely related to the peach. Most of us don't have the sort of background information that will let us answer that with confidence. Still, we have a gut feeling about the answer—"Nuts and fruit? Probably not." These sort of gut reactions to things can be key to helping us navigate through a world where we often don't have complete information.

So it's a bit disappointing to find out how easily our gut feelings can be manipulated. All it takes is a bit of extraneous information—a picture of macadamias or a verbal description of them—and we're far more likely to assume that a statement is true.

The author of the source article raises a valid observation:

To make sure this didn't only work with people, the authors switched to true/false trivia questions, like the macadamia example mentioned above. Again, photos (in this case, images of the subject of the question) caused people to answer "true" more often than they did in a control quiz. And it wasn't just images. They could get a similar effect by reading a short description of the person in question.

The authors equate this with the "truthiness" popularized by Stephen Colbert, going so far as including the term in their paper's title. But it seems to me that they're not really related. Truthiness seems to be something that feels true despite facts indicating the contrary. Here, people typically didn't have enough information to make a call on the question, and were forced to rely on their instincts.

I am inclined to agree with the above excerpt.... what do you think?

posted on Aug, 10 2012 @ 02:23 PM
Yeah it is crazy. One other funny thing is that belief is required for something to be true but not vise-versa. One may never believe the truth despite the evidence presented and will deny it til the day they die. Or when hearing evidence one does not understand they might look at the presenters credentials as justification, "O well he is a doctor he must be right". Some people take written accounts of things from the past more literal and without images just because of the time period and lack of methods for justification.
edit on 10-8-2012 by g0dhims3lf because: spelling


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