Bias versus bias: Harnessing hindsight to reveal paranormal belief change beyond demand characteristics

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael J. Kane, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Psychological change is difficult to assess, in part because self-reported beliefs and attitudes may be biased or distorted. The present study probed belief change, in an educational context, by using the hindsight bias to counter another bias that generally plagues assessment of subjective change. Although research has indicated that skepticism courses reduce paranormal beliefs, those findings may reflect demand characteristics (biases toward desired, skeptical responses). Our hindsight-bias procedure circumvented demand by asking students, following semester-long skepticism (and control) courses, to recall their precourse levels of paranormal belief. People typically remember themselves as previously thinking, believing, and acting as they do now, so current skepticism should provoke false recollections of previous skepticism. Given true belief change, therefore, skepticism students should have remembered themselves as having been more skeptical than they were. They did, at least about paranormal topics that were covered most extensively in the course. Our findings thus show hindsight to be useful in evaluating cognitive change beyond demand characteristics.

Additional Information

Kane, M.J., Core, T.J., & Hunt, R.R. (2010). Bias versus bias: Harnessing hindsight to reveal paranormal belief change, beyond demand characteristics. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 206-212. DOI:10.3758/PBR.17.2.206
Language: English
Date: 2010
Bias, Skepticism, Belief change, Hindsight

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