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This research examines how adolescents think about knowledge and knowing, evaluate competing sources of knowledge, trust certain sources of knowledge, justify knowledge, and approach certainty of knowledge, processes collectively referred to as “personal epistemology.” This project is a four-year, multi-method and multi-measure study in which students from grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 were interviewed about their views on knowledge and knowing. In this set of analyses, we examined the question of domain specificity in adolescent epistemic development and found that personal epistemology is not consistent across all domains, but rather, adolescents’ views about knowledge vary depending on the domain of knowledge that they evaluate. By comparing adolescents’ views on historical knowledge vs. scientific knowledge, we found that adolescents were more likely to trust sources of knowledge in science, to justify sources of scientific knowledge as more trustworthy and valid, and to view knowledge in science as more certain.

People

Lauren Goldstein
Researcher

Barbara Hofer
Sponsor & Professor of Psychology

“What if you had two accounts of the causes of a war, one by a person who lived at that time, and another by a historian, a history expert, who didn’t live through the war, but who has researched it a lot. Which one would you find more believable?”

77% of 6th graders, 73% of 8th graders, and 36% of 12th graders chose contemporary.

Most Common Rationale for Choosing Contemporary

Grade Because Witness Personally Experienced it Because Historian’s Information Could Be Wrong
6th (n=20) 100% (n=20) 40% (n=8)
8th (n=24) 100% (n=24) 21% (n=5)
12th (n=9) 78% (n=7) 11% (n=1)

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Recent evidence shows that a combination of studying and testing can enhance a memory more than strictly studying over that same amount of time, as measured by a test afterward. This is a phenomenon known as the testing effect. Most testing effect studies have focused on testing to improve rote memorization. The present study investigated whether the testing effect aids the application — or transfer — of learning to new situations. In this study, 64 participants learned to solve analogical word problems that required the application of mathematical probability principles. In the first phase of the experiment, half of the participants studied some word problems and their solutions repeatedly while the other half of the participants both studied and solved those word problems. A day later, all participants were tested on new probability word problems. These new problems were designed to assess whether participants were able to apply the probability principles that they learned to new problems. Results suggested that preliminary testing did not improve participants’ ability to solve new problems on the final test, and that all participants were most accurate on new problems that were most similar to old problems.

People

Cloe Shasha
Researcher

Jason Arndt
Sponsor, Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience Program Director

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One of the most fundamental aspects of cognitive function is the ability to filter and extract, through focused attention, useful information from the vast array of incoming stimuli at any given moment. Impairments in selective attention performance are associated with disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. To further investigate the role of orexins in selective attention, male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained on a selective attention task paradigm designed to measure their ability to focus on external stimuli and perform appropriate response actions. Based on the available literature we expect orexin to cause a dose-dependent impairment on performance of the selective attention task.

People

Evans Love
Researcher

Mark Stefani
Assistant Professor of Psychology

An overhead view of the operant chamber setup. On one wall (to the rear of the subjects as pictured) was a food dispenser and food trough. On the opposing wall were three identical cue holes with embedded white lights. The food trough and the cue holes contained an infrared beam that shone across the opening to detect nose pokes by the subjects.

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The use of perspective taking, loosely defined as checking in with another person’s point of view, inhibits aggressive responding. The present study investigates two specific perspective-taking methods: Imagine-Other, which involves imagining how another person feels by trying to understand the situation from his/her point of view, and Imagine-Self, which involves coming to know the other’s perspective by imagining oneself in the other person’s situation.

People

Aviva Bannerman
Researcher

Suzanne Gurland
Assistant Professor of Psychology & Advisor

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