Credibility judgments of narratives: Language, plausibility, and absorption

Galit Nahari, Joseph Glicksohn, Israel Nachson

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12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two experiments were conducted in order to find out whether textual features of narratives differentially affect credibility judgments made by judges having different levels of absorption (a disposition associated with rich visual imagination). Participants in both experiments were exposed to a textual narrative and requested to judge whether the narrator actually experienced the event he described in his story. In Experiment 1, the narrative varied in terms of language (literal, figurative) and plausibility (ordinary, anomalous). In Experiment 2, the narrative varied in terms of language only. The participants' perceptions of the plausibility of the story described and the extent to which they were absorbed in reading were measured. The data from both experiments together suggest that the groups applied entirely different criteria in credibility judgments. For high-absorption individuals, their credibility judgment depends on the degree to which the text can be assimilated into their own vivid imagination, whereas for low-absorption individuals it depends mainly on plausibility. That is, high-absorption individuals applied an experiential mental set while judging the credibility of the narrator, whereas low-absorption individuals applied an instrumental mental set. Possible cognitive mechanisms and implications for credibility judgments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-335
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Volume123
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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