If i imagine it, then it happened: The implicit truth value of imaginary representations

Daniella Shidlovski*, Yaacov Schul, Ruth Mayo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Imagination sometimes leads people to behave, feel, and think as though imagined events were real even when they know they were not. In this paper, we suggest that some understanding of these phenomena can be achieved by differentiating between Implicit Truth Value (ITV), a spontaneous truth evaluation, and Explicit Truth Value (ETV), a self-reported truth judgment. In three experiments, we measure ITV using the autobiographical Implicit Association Test (Sartori, Agosta, Zogmaister, Ferrara, & Castiello, 2008), which has been used to assess which of two autobiographical events is true. Our findings demonstrate that imagining an event, like experiencing an event, increases its ITV, even when people explicitly acknowledge the imagined event as false (Experiments 1a and 1b). Furthermore, we show that imagined representations generated from a first-person perspective have higher ITV than imagined representations generated from a third-person perspective (Experiment 2). Our findings suggest that implicit and explicit measures of truth differ in their sensitivity to properties underlying truth judgment. We discuss the contribution of characterizing events according to both ITV and ETV to the understanding of various psychological phenomena, such as lying and self-deception.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)517-529
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Autobiographical implicit association test
  • Imagination
  • Truth value


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