Pluto Behaving Badly: False Beliefs and Their Consequences
American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 121, No. 4, pp. 643-660, Winter 2008
19 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2009 Last revised: 7 Aug 2010
We exposed college students to suggestive materials in order to lead them to believe that, as children, they had a negative experience at Disneyland involving the Pluto character. A sizable minority of subjects developed a false belief or memory that Pluto had uncomfortably licked their ear. Suggestions about a positive experience with Pluto led to even greater acceptance of a lovable ear-licking episode. False beliefs and memories had repercussions; those seduced by the bad suggestions were not willing to pay as much for a Pluto souvenir. These findings are among the first to demonstrate that false beliefs can have repercussions for people, meaning that they can influence their later thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.
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