Sleeper effect

  In the Internet age, information from various channels is mixed, flooding the Internet. Obviously, people know that if the information comes from a reliable source, the credibility is higher. On the contrary, the credibility is low. So, does this mean that news from reliable sources is more persuasive to people? The answer seems self-explanatory. But psychological research shows that things may not be that simple.
  It turns out that many studies have found that the influence of information source reliability will subside after a period of time. The reason is that the passage of time makes it easy for people to forget the source of the information, and only retain some memories of the information content. Simply put, the recipient of the information will forget who provided the information, so that the reliability of the information source is separated from the content of the information.
  Obviously, whether it is the “blessing” effect of higher information source reliability on information persuasiveness, or the “offset” effect of lower information source reliability on information persuasiveness, it will all be due to people’s forgetfulness of information sources. And tend to disappear. From this we can infer: For those information provided by reliable information sources, its persuasive power is gradually attenuated; for those information provided by unreliable information sources, its persuasive power is gradually increasing. This inference is the so-called sleeper effect.
  In order to explain more specifically what is the sleeper effect, psychologists Robert H. Gas and John S. Sett cited such a popular example in the book “Psychology of Persuasion.” Suppose there are two groups of people. The first group learns a piece of news from a more reliable source of information: Fruits and vegetables should be irradiated before they are shipped to the market to kill bacteria that may adhere; the second group also looks at it. At this point, the reliability of the information source is low, because the information source also attached a disclaimer when reporting the news, claiming that the information was provided by an agricultural industry lobby group.
  If researchers evaluate the attitudes of the two groups to the irradiation of fruits and vegetables in time, they will find that the attitudes of the first group are significantly better than those of the second group. After all, they have obtained information from a more reliable information source. However, after a while, the situation will change-the positive attitude of the first group gradually weakens, while the attitude of the second group becomes more and more positive. The reason is that people forget the source of information. As for where the information comes from, people often say, “I seem to have heard of it somewhere” or “I seem to have seen it somewhere.”
  The sleeper effect is rooted in the fact that people are more likely to forget the source of information than information content. So why is this happening? There are many explanations for this, and one of the most influential explanations is called the “differential decline hypothesis.” This hypothesis believes that when the brain performs memory encoding, it will encode information content and information source into two different memory systems: the former is incorporated into the semantic memory system, and the latter is incorporated into the episodic memory system. The content of the semantic memory system is referenced to general knowledge, has a certain formal structure, and is relatively stable, and memory retrieval is relatively easy, while the content of the episodic memory system is referenced to personal experience and takes time and space as the framework, which is easily disturbed and memory retrieval It’s not easy.
  It should be pointed out that a 2004 study based on a large amount of empirical evidence pointed out that the sleeper effect may be divided into absolute and relative ones. Among them, “the persuasive power of information provided by reliable information sources is gradually declining, while the information provided by unreliable information sources is gradually declining.” The “gradual increase in persuasiveness” is the absolute sleeper effect, while the relative sleeper effect means that whether the information is provided by reliable information sources or unreliable sources, the persuasiveness gradually decays, but the information provided by unreliable sources Persuasion decays more slowly.
  The sleeper effect can explain many phenomena in daily life. For example, why some random rumors have been circulated for a long time, why companies spend a lot of money to invite celebrities to “platform” for product launches, although in the long run they will not have much effect, and so on.