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On the Ease of (Dis)believing: The Role of Accessibility Experiences in Credibility Judgments


Karl Ask, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 500, SE 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.



Credibility judgments are common and consequential in many applied settings. Although much research has addressed human observers' ability to discriminate true and deceptive statements, less is known about the psychological processes involved in such judgments. Here, it is proposed that the process of mustering evidence for or against credibility is reflected in a feeling-based form (ease-of-retrieval) and that such feelings can be used as a basis for credibility judgments. The results of an experiment show, as predicted, that the perceived ease with which participants could identify clues strongly influenced credibility judgments. Ironically, mustering more clues in support of a truthful account lowered credibility judgments; in contrast, mustering more clues in support of a deceptive account increased credibility judgments. Mediation analyses suggest that this is because participants relied on a feeling-based as opposed to content-based judgment strategy. Practical implications are discussed, and theoretical issues regarding the process of credibility judgment are raised. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.