Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How beliefs shape effort and learning

Date:
April 26, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
If it was easy to learn, it will be easy to remember -- right? Psychological scientists have maintained that nearly everyone uses this simple rule to assess their own learning. Now a new study suggests otherwise.

If it was easy to learn, it will be easy to remember. Psychological scientists have maintained that nearly everyone uses this simple rule to assess their own learning.

Now a study published in an upcoming issue Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests otherwise: "Individuals with different theories about the nature of intelligence tend to evaluate their learning in different ways," says David B. Miele of Columbia University, who conducted the study with Bridgid Finn of Washington University in St. Louis and Daniel C. Molden of Northwestern University.

It has long been known that these theories have important effects on people's motivation to learn. So-called "entity theorists" believe each person possesses a fixed level of intelligence, and no amount of effort can change it. "As a result, entity theorists tend to disengage when something is challenging. They decide that they're not really capable of learning it," says Miele. Meanwhile, "incremental theorists" believe that intelligence is malleable. "They keep forging ahead when faced with a challenge, believing that more time and effort will yield better results."

To test whether these theories also affect the way people assess their own learning, the researchers conducted two experiments. In the first, 75 English-speaking students studied 54 pairs of Indonesian to English translations that varied in terms of how effortful they were to learn. The easy pairs consisted of English words that were nearly identical to their Indonesian counterpart (e.g, Polisi-Police) and required little effort to learn; many of the medium pairs were still connected in some way (e.g, Bagasi-Luggage) but required more effort to learn than the easy pairs; and the difficult pairs were entirely dissimilar (e.g., Pembalut-Bandage) and required the most effort to learn. After studying each pair for as long as they liked, the participants reported how confident they were about being able to recall the English word when supplied the Indonesian word on an upcoming test. Once they had finished studying and reporting their "judgments of learning" for all of the pairs, they then took the recall test. Finally, at the end of the experiment, they completed a questionnaire which assessed the extent to which they believed that intelligence is fixed or changeable.

The results of the experiment showed that, although all of the students did better at recalling the easy pairs compared to the difficult pairs, only entity theorists (who expressed more confidence the less time they spent studying) accurately predicted the magnitude of this effect. Incremental theorists (who expressed more confidence the more time they spent studying) tended to be overconfident about how likely they were to remember the difficult pairs and under confident about how likely they were to remember the easy pairs. This finding was also supported by the results of the second experiment. Thus, simply holding different beliefs about the nature of intelligence can lead people to form very different impressions of their own learning.

And which theory of intelligence is correct? "The truth lies somewhere in between," he says. "We have to be sensitive to personal limitations" -- say, a learning disability -- "and at the same time not feel those limitations are the end all-be all. Effort can always lead to some amount of improvement, but you also need to be aware of the law of diminishing returns."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "How beliefs shape effort and learning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415114004.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, April 26). How beliefs shape effort and learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415114004.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "How beliefs shape effort and learning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415114004.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins