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People often encounter information that they subsequently learn is false. Past research has shown that people sometimes continue to use this misinformation in their reasoning, even if they remember that the information is false, which researchers refer to as the continued influence effect. The current work shows that the continued influence effect depends on the stories people have in memory: corrected misinformation was found to have a stronger effect on people's beliefs than information that was topically related to the story if it helped to provide a causal explanation of a story they had read previously. We argue this effect occurs because information that can fill a causal “gap” in a story enhances comprehension of the story event, which allows people to build a complete (if inaccurate) event model that they prefer over an accurate but incomplete event model. This effect is less likely to occur for stories in memory that end in a negative way, presumably because people are more motivated to accurately understand negative outcome events.

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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article, published by Wiley on behalf of the Society for Consumer Psychology:

Hamby, A.; Ecker, U.; & Brinberg, D. (2020 Apr). How Stories in Memory Perpetuate the Continued Influence of False Information. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 30(2), 240-259.

which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. The content of this document may vary from the final published version.

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