Aligning Spinoza with Descartes: An informed Cartesian account of the truth bias

Chris N. H. Street, Alan Kingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


There is a bias towards believing information is true rather than false. The Spinozan account claims there is an early, automatic bias towards believing. Only afterwards can people engage in an effortful re-evaluation and disbelieve the information. Supporting this account, there is a greater bias towards believing information is true when under cognitive load. However, developing on the Adaptive Lie Detector (ALIED) theory, the informed Cartesian can equally explain this data. The account claims the bias under load is not evidence of automatic belief; rather, people are undecided, but if forced to guess they can rely on context information to make an informed judgement. The account predicts, and we found, that if people can explicitly indicate their uncertainty, there should be no bias towards believing because they are no longer required to guess. Thus, we conclude that belief formation can be better explained by an informed Cartesian account – an attempt to make an informed judgment under uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-466
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2017


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