Believe it or not: On the possibility of suspending belief

Uri Hasson, Joseph P. Simmons, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


We present two experiments that cast doubt on existing evidence suggesting that it is impossible to suspend belief in a comprehended proposition. In Experiment 1, we found that interrupting the encoding of a statement's veracity decreased memory for the statement's falsity when the false version of the statement was uninformative, but not when the false version was informative. This suggests that statements that are informative when false are not represented as if they were true. In Experiment 2, participants made faster lexical decisions to words implied by preceding statements when they were told that the statements were true than when the veracity of the statements was unknown or when the statements were false. The findings suggest that comprehending a statement may not require believing it, and that it may be possible to suspend belief in comprehended propositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-571
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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