Monday, March 20, 2023

Acquiring knowledge by Googling gives people a greater illusion of understanding than passively reading the same information, especially when the search results feature snippets

Understanding Why Searching the Internet Inflates Confidence in Explanatory Ability. Emmaline Drew Eliseev, Elizabeth J. Marsh. Applied Cognitive Psychology, March 11 2023. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.4058

Abstract: People rely on the internet for easy access to information, setting up potential confusion about the boundaries between an individual's knowledge and the information they find online. Across four experiments, we replicated and extended past work showing that online searching inflates people's confidence in their knowledge. Participants who searched the internet for explanations rated their explanatory ability higher than participants who read but did not search for the same explanations. Two experiments showed that extraneous web page content (pictures) does not drive this effect. The last experiment modeled how search engines yield results; participants saw (but did not search for) a list of hits, which included “snippets” that previewed web page content, before reading the explanations. Participants in this condition were as confident as participants who searched online. Previewing hits primes to-be-read content, in a modern-day equivalent of Titchener's (1921) example of a brief glance eliciting false feelings of familiarity.


Despite the wide educational use of Milgram’s studies to increase people’s awareness of the risks inherent to blind obedience, it may be that this knowledge only serves to evaluate other’s behaviors, and not oneself

The blind obedience of others: a better than average effect in a Milgram-like experiment. Laurent B├Ęgue & Kevin Vezirian. Ethics & Behavior, Mar 15 2023. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508422.2023.2191322

Abstract: In two highly powered studies (total N = 1617), we showed that individuals estimated that they would stop earlier than others in a Milgram-like biomedical task leading to the death of an animal, confirming the relevance of the Better than Average Effect (BTAE) in a new research setting. However, this effect was not magnified among participants displaying high self-esteem. We also showed that participants who already knew obedience studies expected that others would be more obedient and would administer more damaging treatment to the target. However, knowledge of Milgram’s studies was unrelated to a higher estimate of their own behavior (study 1), and was even linked to the prediction that they would stop earlier (study 2, preregistered). Despite the wide educational use of Milgram’s studies to increase people’s awareness of the risks inherent to blind obedience, it may be that this knowledge only serves to evaluate other’s behaviors, and not oneself.