Truth or Truthiness? How Desires Influence Truth Associations

Lai, Calvin, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Nosek, Brian, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

What people want to happen and what actually happens often differs. How do people resolve this discrepancy between desires and reality within memory? One possibility is that they don’t. I argue that truth evaluations arise from automatic processes that produce associations with truth and controlled processes that compare the validity of different beliefs. Further, I contend that desires shape associations with the truth. In Studies 1-3 I use real-world events to demonstrate that desires are related to truth associations, even when those desires do not reflect reality. Study 4 examines how desires causally impact truth associations and Study 5 examines how desires and knowledge about an outcome interact in influencing truth associations. Studies 2, 3, and 5 also explore how truth associations mediate the effects of desires on expectations and beliefs about events. I find that desires influence associations with the truth and that truth associations mediate the impact of desires on beliefs about events.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
implicit social cognition, implicit measures, Implicit Association Test, attitudes, truth associations, aIAT, desires
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