Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department




Faculty Mentor Department


Faculty Mentor

Yoonhee Jang


truthiness, familiarity, judgment, pre-exposure, truthiness-effect

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Psychology


Judgments on whether a statement is true are influenced by various factors. For example, Newman et al. (2012) found participants rated a statement as true if it was presented with a related photo, even if the photo did not provide any evidence that the statement is true. This phenomenon is known as the truthiness effect. Despite a large number of existing studies, little has been known about the mechanism underlies the truthiness effect. In the memory literature, previous studies demonstrated that simply repeating an item, such as a word, makes it more memorable (Jacoby & Whitehouse, 1989), suggesting that mere exposure facilitates conceptual processing and leads to high familiarity. The current study investigated whether pre-exposure of a photo increases familiarity, which influences people to judge a statement as true regardless of whether the statement is true. The study consisted of two phases: a pre-exposure phase, and a judgement phase. During phase 1, a series of photos were shown to participants, and they were asked to make a likeness judgment for each. In phase 2, they were shown a series of statements with a photo or no photo, where they would determine the truthfulness of the statement. Critically, half of the photos in phase 2 were used in phase 1. Participants judged statements as more truthful when they were presented with a photo, as compared to when they were not, which is consistent with previous studies. The truthiness effect disappeared when the photo was pre-exposed. The new finding suggests that familiarity through pre-exposure of a photo makes things more believable and truer even if the statement is indeed false.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




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