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What is the truth? Something you can prove with fact! But what if there is no book knowledge or facts to support what you believe to be true? And how easily are we swayed to trust in something untruthful?

Studies have shown that advertisers, politicians and even journalist use repetition to make people believe them, and interestingly enough it works. The reason behind this is something called cognitive fluency, basically how easy is it for the brain to think about something. When something is familiar we need less effort to process the information, which means we are more likely to believe it to be true.

This obviously makes it harder for us to believe complex thoughts or ideas. If our brain has to go into overdrive to compute elaborate and manifold thoughts we become distrustful, our minds confusing new with wrong. The only way to bypass this default setting in our brains is to repeat the information, even just once helps, but three to five times is optimal.

However we don’t just blindly believe something we hear again and again if we concentrate, when we actively process the information presented we are less likely to fall into the “I’ve heard it before so it must be true”-trap. This means that advertisement benefits from the fact that we are normally too distracted to really compute what we hear, making it easier for us to just except it to be true, instead of using precious mind power to think about it.

Another trick advertisers use to make us believe that what they have to say is true is imagery.  When we hear words and see a picture of the topic at hand at the same time we are more likely to trust the statement. Somehow our brains associate pictures with proof, turning it into a fact and we believe it.

So maybe if we want that pay-rise or an extra day leave we should just keep telling or boss about it, hold up a picture of a pile of money or a beach while we do so and wait for moments in which  he/she is distracted. Maybe then he will believe it and give in to what you know to be true!

After all as the wonderful Oscar Wilde once said:

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple