Doctored photographs can shape what people believe and remember about prominent public events, perhaps due to their apparent credibility. In three studies, subjects completed surveys about the 2012 London Olympic torch relay (Experiment 1) or the 2011 Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (Experiments 2-3). Some were shown a genuine photo of the event; others saw a doctored photo that depicted protesters and unrest. A third group of subjects saw a doctored photo whose inauthenticity had been made explicit, either by adding a written disclaimer (Experiment 1) or by making the digital manipulation deliberately poor (Experiments 2-3). In all three studies, doctored photos had small effects on a subset of subjects’ beliefs about the events. Of central interest though, comparable effects also emerged when the photos were overtly inauthentic. These findings suggest that cognitive mechanisms other than credibility—such as familiarity misattribution and mental imagery—can rapidly influence beliefs about past events even when the low credibility of a source is overt.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Memory on 17/08/17, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09658211.2017.1364393
- belief distortion