Truth or Truthiness? How Desires Influence Truth Associations

by Calvin Lai

Institution: University of Virginia
Department: Social Psychology
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: implicit social cognition; implicit measures; Implicit Association Test; attitudes; truth associations; aIAT; desires
Record ID: 2061960
Full text PDF: http://libra.virginia.edu/catalog/libra-oa:8657


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.