The sleepy head effect: why we believe false information

from an unreliable source, we believe that information, despite its dubious authenticity. The sleepy head effect: why we believe false

The sleepy head effect: why we believe false information
The sleepy head effect: why we believe false information

The sleepy headed effect is a psychological phenomenon that states that some time after hearing information from an unreliable source, we believe that information, despite its dubious authenticity. The sleepy head effect: why we believe false information.

The sleepy-headed effect, also known as the sleep-over effect, is a term that refers to the effect on the recipient of information that was initially rejected as false.

According to some theories, the sleepy effect is that the recipient initially ignores a message that does not appear credible. However, he eventually begins to believe in it, even though he initially thought it was a fake.

We can start believing false information when new, external evidence emerges to back it up. On the other hand, we may start to believe fake news as a result of our internal reflections that lead us to re-evaluate the information over time.

The sleepyhead effect may seem like a somewhat contradictory mechanism. After all, we tend to question more deeply messages we initially didn't believe in than those we believed.

However, this does not mean that some of the information stored in our memory will not become important someday, even if we initially thought it was questionable. They start to be meaningful to us when we come across other data that make us change our minds.

Where did the sleepy effect come from?

In the 1940s, during the Second World War, governments carried out many publicity campaigns to get people to view war in a positive light. The US Department of War, in particular, wanted to know if their propaganda films were effective.

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With this in mind, a series of experiments were conducted to analyze how propaganda films influenced the attitudes of soldiers. The results were quite puzzling. The researchers found that the short films did not influence the attitudes of the soldiers in the way they expected.

When the films were informative, they strengthened already existing attitudes. However, after seeing them, the soldiers were generally not more optimistic. In other words, producers and psychologists failed to achieve the goal for which they created short propaganda films.

Oddly enough, they also found that after a few months, these short films had a surprising effect on the soldiers. Although the soldiers did not change their attitude to war immediately after watching the spots, some changes in their thinking took place after nine months.

As might be expected, this phenomenon has been widely discussed in scientific psychology, as it is difficult to say exactly whether the changes in attitudes after such a long time should be attributed solely to watching the short film.

Some credible studies show that the convincing effect of a message is highest as soon as the information is received. Therefore, it can be assumed that the more time passes, the more the impact on the recipient diminishes. Advertising agencies know this well. Therefore, they often offer some sort of reward to those who make quick purchases.

Necessary conditions

For the sleepyhead effect to work, two basic conditions must be met:

  • Strong starting effect: The sleepyhead effect only occurs when the persuasive message has a strong impact from the very beginning. This is because a strong impression guarantees that the information will stay in the recipient's memory and thoughts for a longer time.
  • Common sense message: When an information source is not credible, recipients tend to discredit the message. Nevertheless, if it turns out that a source is not credible until after watching the video, we are more receptive to messages and also more susceptible to suggestion.

The marketing industry does not shy away from using this knowledge in practice. An example would be an article on the benefits of chocolate to convince your audience to consume more of it. There is a note at the end of the article that the author of the text is related to the chocolate company.

So when we get convincing news about how beneficial it is to eat chocolate, before we know its source - the chocolate maker - we will be more susceptible to the sleepy effect.

The explanation of this interesting phenomenon, which turns out to be the sleepyhead effect, can be very simple. Some people say that as time goes on, the mind forgets that the source of the information was not completely trustworthy. Nevertheless, the information itself remains in our memory.

This is the reason why we become more prone to trusting information from untrustworthy sources over time than when we read it for the first time.

The sleepyhead effect is one way that advertising and the media can try to convince you to take notice of something. They can also encourage you to buy things you don't need or vote for a specific candidate. In addition, this phenomenon can make you ignore the negative qualities of the product they offer.