Cognitive Social Colloquium - Norbert Schwartz

ה', 12/12/201912:30-14:00
Social Sciences, 27501, Mount Scopus
Norbert Schwarz (Southern California)
Truthiness: What makes a claim feel true?

Norbert Schwarz

University of Southern California


Declaring “post-truth” the word of the year 2016, the Oxford Dictionaries noted that truthiness – “the quality of seeming true or being felt to be true” – may have replaced truth in public discourse. But what makes a claim “feel” true? I propose that people rely on a subset of five criteria in evaluating truth:  Is it compatible with other things I believe? Is it internally consistent? Does it tell a plausible story? Does it come from a credible source?  Are there many supporting arguments? Do others think so as well?  Each criterion can be evaluated by drawing on relevant details (an effortful analytic strategy) or by attending to the ease with which the content can be processed (a less effortful intuitive strategy). Fluent (easy) processing provides an affirmative answer to each of these truth tests, even when more careful processing would identify the claim as faulty. Intuitive assessments of truth have important implications for the role of social media and the correction of false claims.  Social media facilitate “truthiness” through high repetition, selective filtering and sharing, and easy-to-process formats, all of which foster acceptance of a claim as true. Common correction strategies are ill suited to reduce truthiness. They typically confront false claims with facts, which works while the facts are highly accessible. But it backfires after a delay because extensive thought about false claims during the correction phase increases fluent processing when the claim is re-encountered later. Further highlighting the role of subjective experiences in assessments of truth, incidental elicitations of feelings of suspicion foster analytic processing and reduce reliance on intuition. I present select experiments from this research program, highlight the role of feelings in judgments of truth, and discuss implications for public opinion and consumer behavior.


Thursday, December 12th, 12:30
Psychology seminar room, 5th floor, Faculty of Social sciences , Mount Scopus