Why are we so easily Deceived ?
Many people rely on their intuition rather than their knowledge when trying to discern truth. This may seem like the opposite of what should happen, but new research finds that there are ways we can be tricked into thinking that something feels familiar, trustworthy and true.
The Washington Post writes on why most people are so easily duped. It seems that instead of recruiting your general knowledge to answer a claim, you’ll turn to your intuition.
Cognitive psychologist, Eryn Newman, delved into the question of, How we come to believe that things are true when they are not? In her research at UC Irvine , Newman and colleagues used photos to look at the powerful effect images have on our memories, beliefs and evaluations of others. Past research has shown that photographs can aid in a person’s comprehension and make it easier to learn new information.
However, cognitive psychology research shows that photos can also be misleading. Photographs are a moment from a real event, so we often view them as evidence that an event actually took place. Sometimes with just the notion that a photo is a representation of a real event, we are tricked into believing a claim even when it is not actually substantiated by the photograph.
In a study by Elizabeth Loftus and others at UC Irvine, people who saw a doctored photo of President Obama shaking hands with the former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually said they remembered the event happening — even though it was completely false. Photos can even trick us into remembering false events from our own childhood. People who saw a doctored childhood photo came to remember a false event (riding in a hot air balloon) with the same detail and emotion that you would expect from a real memory.
This feeling of familiarity could influence us in a variety of contexts. In the courtroom, an easy name might make a witness or expert seem more credible. In the workforce, an easy name might help an individual’s résumé float to the top of a stack. And in the news, a photo — even one that is only loosely related — might make a story seem more credible.
How can we avoid being taken in by a false sense of truthiness? Cognitive psychology research has shown that people are often unaware of their biases or how information influences their judgments. But simply being warned about the influence of names and photos might just make us a little more cautious — leading us to look for truth that comes from books, and not the gut.