November 6, 2008 — Ian Skurnik, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, was the lead author on a paper that received the 2008 Best Article Award from the Journal of Consumer Research. The award was announced last weekend at the annual Association for Consumer Research conference.
The Journal of Consumer Research is a top journal in marketing, and this award is among the most prestigious for behavioral researchers.
The article, "How Warnings About False Claims Become Recommendations," presented experimental evidence that over time, warning consumers that a claim is false can paradoxically increase their belief in the claim's truth. This systematic memory illusion affects older adults quickly, with the effect that warning them about false medical claims helps them avoid false information, but only immediately; after a delay, repeated warnings about false claims backfire, and increase belief that the claims are true.
In short, consumers can end up believing false information not in spite of warnings, but because of them. These findings provide insight into susceptibility over time to memory distortions via repetition of claims in media and advertising.
The research has been featured in a full article in the New York Times Science section, and has been cited in the Washington Post, Der Spiegel and on National Public Radio's "Science Update" program sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The work continues to be cited in a variety of publications.
Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs.
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This story originally appeared on the Darden School of Business Web site.