What's in the Box? The Effect of Negative Corrections on Children's Belief in Misinformation

Research has demonstrated a continued influence effect which occurs when belief in misinformation persists even after correction. Although several techniques can reduce belief in misinformation, none are able to eliminate belief entirely. In fact, researchers have found that attempting to correct misinformation may have an adverse effect (i.e., increasing belief) when negative corrections are presented to individuals not given the misinformation. The current study's purpose is to extend these findings by testing whether the same effect occurs in 3-to-6-year-old children. We will test belief in false information while manipulating exposure to misinformation and negative corrections. Approximately 40 children will watch a presentation in which the contents of eight boxes, two for each experimental condition: misinformation-control, misinformation-correction, control-control, and control-correction, are discussed by two characters. Depending on the condition, one character will provide misinformation (e.g., there are marbles in the blue box) or no information, the other character will then provide a negative correction (e.g., there are not marbles in the blue box) or no correction. After each box, the child will be asked what they believe is inside. We hypothesize that when children are exposed to misinformation, negative corrections will reduce belief in misinformation relative to no correction; however, when children are not exposed to misinformation, negative corrections will increase belief in misinformation relative to no correction, demonstrating that the effect of negative corrections depends on exposure. This finding would support previous research in adults and extend the finding to children, with important implications for news media, courtrooms, schools, etc.


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