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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

Visual Illusion of Truth Effect

Published: May 25, 2021


Farhana Tabassum, BI Norwegian Business School; Klemens Knoeferle, BI Norwegian Business School; Luk Warlop, BI Norwegian Business School


Everyday, we are exposed to and inundated with photographic images that come from a variety of sources, such as, advertisements, press and social media actors and from different consumer fields. Usually, such images which we keep seeing repeatedly, are edited to a very convincing extent. Repeated exposures to edited images can make consumers more likely susceptible to recall and construe those images as more authentic/real/truthful, compared to images that are not repeatedly seen. We call this bias ‘visual illusion of truth’ effect. Findings from 3 experiments suggest that participants judged old or familiar images as more truthful and less fake than new or unfamiliar images. The effect occurred across different photographic contexts, e.g., hotel rooms/dining halls/living rooms; and importantly, irrespective of labeling of response scales, i.e., judging truth vs. fakeness. Implications of frequent exposure to visual contents are discussed.