Previous research on the truthiness effect has shown that non-probative but related photos can bias judgements towards truth. When true-or-false statements are presented with a non-probative but related photo, people are more likely to rate the statement "true" compared to when no photo is present. This effect is consistent, but the magnitude of the effect is small (i.e. hovering around d = 0.2; see Newman, Jalbert, Schwarz, & Ly, (2020) and other truthiness literature). In order to understand the truthiness effect better and investigate the underlying mechanisms, we are trying to increase the magnitude of the effect by modifying the way that truthiness is manipulated and measured. Theoretically, truthiness arises when the photograph activates semantically-related information shared between the photo and the true-or-false statement leading to an increase in processing fluency of the statement (see Newman, Garry, Unkelbach, Bernstein, and Lindsay, 2015; Unkelbach and Rom, 2017). This relative increase in the processing fluency of photo-present statements (or decrease in processing fluency for no-photo statements) can be misused as a cue for truth or falsity. Therefore, we anticipate that the magnitude of the truthiness effect may be increased if participants are provided with a recognition task that encourages deeper processing of the photo, and in turn, more consistent activation of semantically related concepts shared between the photo and statement that follows. In this first experiment, we will have participants rate true or false trivia statements after viewing (a) a blank, empty box (no photo condition); (b) a clear, non-probative photo for 4 seconds (clear photo condition); or (c) a blurred non-probative photo that clarifies over 8 seconds (clarified photo condition). In photo-present or clarified-photo conditions, participants will be asked to identify the photo (what is this a photo of?).
In theory, the slow clarification may lead to an "aha moment" when the photograph clarifies, which may be misattributed to the truth of the subsequent statement (i.e. through a revelation effect; see Assfalg, Bernstein, & Hockley, 2017). The novel identification procedure may also encourage deeper processing of the photograph than if no identification is made. Though identification is not manipulated in this study, it may be manipulated in follow-up work if the observed effect size of the truthiness effect (i.e., statements that follow a non-probative photo are rated true more often than statements that do not) is larger than has been observed in previous studies.