On Misinformation and Truth Sandwiches

Lisa Fazio is an assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University. She and her team in the Building Knowledge Lab study how children and adults learn new information, true and false, and how to correct errors in people’s knowledge.

Lisa’s research has applications in both the educational environment of the classroom and out in the world, including when it comes to how our brains process the inexhaustible stream of headlines, stories, videos, memes, likes, shares, and whatever else the Internet serves up to us at all hours of the day and night.

We framed our conversation around a study Lisa and one of her colleagues at Vanderbilt published in the September 2020 issue of the journal Psychological Science. It’s a paper that builds on previous work by her and many others related to how the number of times we hear a statement repeated impacts whether we think it’s true … even if it’s not.

In addition to implications for how we consume information on social media and elsewhere, this illusory truth effect has a throughline to Lisa’s research in education. And as she explains, all of us—no matter our age or our beliefs—must navigate the same internal mechanism that associates repetition with truth.

Whether this inclination serves us well or causes problems depends on the circumstances. But when it is problematic, such as in the case of misinformation, Lisa suggests a counter strategy that befits this, a podcast founded on the idea of brunch. It’s called:

The truth sandwich.

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About the Podcast:

“With a Side of Knowledge” is a podcast produced at the University of Notre Dame. It features interviews with fascinating people from both Notre Dame and elsewhere that take place over brunch—or if we’re really in a pinch, coffee.

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October 22, 2020

Health and SocietyScience and TechnologyLisa FazioVanderbiltIllusory Truth EffectTruthMisinformationNotre DamepodcastInterviewPsychologyResearchWith a Side of Knowledge