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Automatic Believing

 

Explanations > Theories > Automatic Believing

Description | Research | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

People initially believe everything they see and hear ('seeing is believing'), but then rapidly assess whether it is true or not and consequently reject or continue to believe things. This assessment and decision takes time and energy, so the more tired people get or more distracted by other things, the more they are likely to believe false information.

Research

Gilbert, Tafarodi and Malone (1993) asked people to read crime reports and recommend prison sentences, including some false statements which were marked in red to indicate them as such. In normal situations, they were not affected by the false statements. However, when they were overloaded by additional work, the false statements affected their judgment.

So What?

Using it

Persuade people when they are tired distracted. Make then tired by spending a long time with them in exhausting activities, physical or mental. Distract them by giving them a lot of information or points of special interest and then slipping in the thing you really want them to believe.

Defending

Do not make commitments when you are tired or distracted. Watch out for people trying to persuade you during such times when you cannot give the matter your full and proper attention.

See also

Belief Perseverance

References

Gilbert (1991), Gilbert (1998), Gilbert, Tafarodi and Malone (1993)

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