What is a “belief echo” and why does it matter?

In her article “Debunking Donald Trump won’t work for you if you repeat what he got wrong,” Emily Thorson explains that when false information is shared to the public and then immediately corrected, it still has the  ability to give rise to something known as a “belief echo”. A belief echo is the lingering negative affect left on a person’s feelings  or attitude toward a given person or subject even after they are made aware that the negative statement is untrue. She argues the importance of not sharing false information, as it has the incredible ability to drastically affect our thinking and opinions. Once a negative opinion has been formed, it is difficult if not impossible to undo-regardless of the fact that the false information has been effectively discredited.

After reading Emily’s article, I was able to put the information into perspective and see how we can experience this on a day to day level in our personal lives. How can this occur in our daily lives? Imagine that you and your significant other have just had an argument that left you both fuming. Later that day, you phone a friend or relative in order to vent and blow off steam.  Your anger leads you to blow things out of proportion and you make a few harsh and unfounded comments about your significant other that you instantly come to regret.  You immediately stop yourself and apologize to your friend or family member for speaking ill of your significant other and admit that you let your anger get the better of you this time. It’s too late. These negative comments that you have made will now affect how your friend/family member will view your significant other. If the comment was harsh enough, it may severely damage their opinion of that person permanently. This is only one example of how belief echoes can impact us. They can occur in just about any situation-personal, at work, politically or even a disgruntled patient out to destroy a doctor’s reputation. By writing this, I hope to further emphasize the author’s point of the powerful affect belief echoes have on our attitudes and why it is crucial to make every effort to present only the facts.

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