I Imagine, I Experience, I Like: The False Experience Effect
False memories refer to the mistaken belief that an event that did not occur did occur. Much of the research on false memories has focused on the antecedents to and the characteristics of such memories, with little focus on the consequences of false memories. In this research, we show that exposure to an imagery-evoking ad can result in an erroneous belief that an individual has experienced the advertised brand. We also demonstrate that such false experiential beliefs function akin to genuine product experience beliefs with regard to their consequences on product attitude strength, a finding we call the false experience effect. We further demonstrate two moderators of this effect–plausibility of past experience and evaluation timing.
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