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.

Related Articles


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 March 28, 2015 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 March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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