Processing Inaccurate Information

Processing Inaccurate Information: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives from Cognitive Science and the Educational Sciences

David N. Rapp
Jason L. G. Braasch
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 480
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Processing Inaccurate Information
    Book Description:

    Our lives revolve around the acquisition of information. Sometimes the information we acquirefrom other people, from books, or from the medi -- -is wrong. Studies show that people rely on such misinformation, sometimes even when they are aware that the information is inaccurate or invalid. And yet investigations of learning and knowledge acquisition largely ignore encounters with this sort of problematic material. This volume fills the gap, offering theoretical and empirical perspectives on the processing of misinformation and its consequences. The contributors, from cognitive science and education science, provide analyses that represent a variety of methodologies, theoretical orientations, and fields of expertise. The chapters describe the behavioral consequences of relying on misinformation and outline possible remediations; discuss the cognitive activities that underlie encounters with inaccuracies, investigating why reliance occurs so readily; present theoretical and philosophical considerations of the nature of inaccuracies; and offer formal, empirically driven frameworks that detail when and how inaccuracies will lead to comprehension difficulties.ContributorsContributorsPeter Afflerbach, Patricia A. Alexander, Jessica J. Andrews, Peter Baggetta, Jason L. G. Braasch, Ivar Bråten, M. Anne Britt, Rainer Bromme, Luke A. Buckland, Clark A. Chinn, Byeong-Young Cho, Sidney K. D'Mello, Andrea A. diSessa, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Arthur C. Graesser, Douglas J. Hacker, Brenda Hannon, Xiangen Hu, Maj-Britt Isberner, Koto Ishiwa, Matthew E. Jacovina, Panayiota Kendeou, Jong-Yun Kim, Stephan Lewandowsky, Elizabeth J. Marsh, Ruth Mayo, Keith K. Millis, Edward J. O'Brien, Herre van Oostendorp, José Otero, David N. Rapp, Tobias Richter, Ronald W. Rinehart, Yaacov Schul, Colleen M. Seifert, Marc Stadtler, Brent Steffens, Helge I. Strømsø, Briony Swire, Sharda Umanath

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32564-6
    Subjects: Psychology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1 Accurate and Inaccurate Knowledge Acquisition
    (pp. 1-10)
    David N. Rapp and Jason L. G. Braasch

    Our lives revolve around the acquisition of information. We go to work or school and immerse ourselves in topics that demand our attention, requiring us to develop our expertise through practice and study with relevant concepts and ideas. Even leisure and less career-oriented pursuits involve similar focus: Before we rest at the end of the day, we might peruse a novel or a magazine to enjoy some frivolous bit of entertainment; when we wake up, we reach for the remote or laptop to learn about what happened while we were sleeping; and we seek out information that informs our hobbies...

  6. I Detecting and Dealing with Inaccuracies

    • 2 Correcting Misinformation—A Challenge for Education and Cognitive Science
      (pp. 13-38)
      Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Briony Swire and Stephan Lewandowsky

      Jenny McCarthy is a popular and successful U.S. TV show host, actress, and author. She is also the mother of a child diagnosed with autism, which has inspired her to become an activist and serve on the board of directors ofGeneration Rescue,an organization dedicated to informing the public about the recovery of children with autism spectrum disorders and the presumed risks of vaccinations.

      In March 2012, she wrote: “MMR [i.e., the common measles–mumps–rubella vaccine], by far, has been the vaccine most commonly cited by parents as a trigger for a regression into autism” (McCarthy, 2012). This...

    • 3 The Continued Influence Effect: The Persistence of Misinformation in Memory and Reasoning Following Correction
      (pp. 39-72)
      Colleen M. Seifert

      I can still recall the event that brought the Continued Influence Effect to my attention:

      One cold December day, I spent a lunch hour at the local college sportswear store buying sweatshirts as holiday gifts for my many nephews. At the end of the workday, I returned to my car, and was startled to find the bag of shirts missing. Living in a small college town, I always left my car unlocked and never experienced a problem. Shook up, I filed a report with the university police, and I sent an email to warn my colleagues about “How the Grinch...

    • 4 Failures to Detect Textual Problems during Reading
      (pp. 73-92)
      Douglas J. Hacker

      Thirty-six children from grades 1, 2, and 3 were asked by a researcher to help write instructions for a children’s alphabet card game and to perform a magic trick (Markman, 1977). The researcher told the children that she needed their help to determine the adequacy of the instructions, and they were to suggest improvements. The researcher explained the card game and told them that the game depended on a “special card,” but no mention was made as to what the “special card” was. The children were then asked a series of questions concerning the adequacy of the instructions. They also...

    • 5 Research on Semantic Illusions Tells Us That There Are Multiple Sources of Misinformation
      (pp. 93-116)
      Brenda Hannon

      What superhero is associated with bats, Robin, the Penguin, Metropolis, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Joker, and Mr. Freeze?Did you answerBatman?If you did, then you are a victim of a semantic illusion because Batman protectsGotham Cityand notMetropolis.In questions like this one, people frequently fail to notice a semantic anomaly even though they know that Batman protects Gotham City and even when they are told in advance that there are questions with semantic errors (Hannon & Daneman, 2001a). But why do people fail to notice semantic anomalies? That is, what are the sources of misinformation...

    • 6 Sensitivity to Inaccurate Argumentation in Health News Articles: Potential Contributions of Readers’ Topic and Epistemic Beliefs
      (pp. 117-138)
      Jason L. G. Braasch, Ivar Bråten, M. Anne Britt, Brent Steffens and Helge I. Strømsø

      What are the health benefits of daily exercise? Would a vaccination reduce the likelihood that I get the flu this season? Are there health risks associated with cell phone use? In our day-to-day lives, we have frequent concerns about health topics that can drive us to seek out relevant, high-quality information. The development of the Internet has made it possible to rapidly and easily acquire a wealth of information about such health topics, affording opportunities to increase the depth and breadth of our understandings. However, the Internet brings about an unbridled access to information, where virtually anyone can publish without...

    • 7 Conversational Agents Can Help Humans Identify Flaws in the Science Reported in Digital Media
      (pp. 139-158)
      Arthur C. Graesser, Keith K. Millis, Sidney K. D’Mello and Xiangen Hu

      It is widely believed that information in print, spoken, and digital media is replete with inaccuracies, especially now that there is less editing of content in most media outlets. Inaccurate information may range from a single sentence that conveys a fact or claim to lengthy discourse that incorporates a deeply flawed mental model. Sometimes there are explicit contradictions within a text or between texts. At other times the contradictions require inferences and careful scrutiny with respect to prior knowledge. This is impossible or difficult for readers who have low knowledge about the subject matter. They cannot identify false information or...

  7. II Machanisms of Inaccurate Knowledge Acquisition

    • 8 Knowledge Neglect: Failures to Notice Contradictions with Stored Knowledge
      (pp. 161-180)
      Elizabeth J. Marsh and Sharda Umanath

      Why do students often think that Toronto is the capital of Canada and that vitamin C wards off colds? Misconceptions are common across domains, including physics (e.g., Brown, 1992; McCloskey, 1983), health (e.g., Lee, Friedman, Ross-Degnan, Hibberd, & Goldmann, 2003; Wynn, Foster, & Trussell, 2009), chemistry (e.g., Nakhleh, 1992), gambling (e.g., Ferland, Ladouceur, & Vitaro, 2002), and ecology (e.g., Munson, 1994), among many others. Part of the problem is that there are many potential sources of misconceptions, including (but not limited to) misleading content in textbooks (e.g., Cho, Kahle, & Nordland, 1985), logical errors on the part of the learner...

    • 9 Mechanisms of Problematic Knowledge Acquisition
      (pp. 181-202)
      David N. Rapp, Matthew E. Jacovina and Jessica J. Andrews

      Careful scrutiny is an invaluable activity. When crafting written materials, proofreading our productions can catch spelling and grammatical mistakes, as well as more egregious logical inconsistencies. Fact-checking is considered so important to journalistic activity that editors and their assistants are assigned the specific task of deliberating over contributions to ensure their accuracy. Classroom assignments in grades K–12 and beyond similarly require students to critique the validity of theories, positions, and viewpoints, sometimes with accompanying coursework intended to train those necessary evaluative skills (e.g., Toth, Klahr, & Chen, 2000). And our mundane everyday activities regularly benefit from carefully monitoring for...

    • 10 Discounting Information: When False Information Is Preserved and When It Is Not
      (pp. 203-222)
      Yaacov Schul and Ruth Mayo

      Although people often assume that communicators are cooperative (Grice, 1975), they are also well prepared for deception. Evolutionary theory assumes that deception is inherent to living in groups, and there are empirical demonstrations indicating that lying is common in everyday interactions (DePaulo, Kashy, Kirkendol, Wyer, & Epstein, 1996; DePaulo & Kashy, 1998; Feldman, Forrest, & Happ, 2002). It is therefore not surprising that consumers distrust product information provided by sellers (e.g., Dyer & Kuehl, 1978; Prendergast, Liu, & Poon, 2009) or that voters are suspicious of messages coming from political candidates (Schyns & Koop, 2010). Hence, it seems reasonable to...

    • 11 The Ambivalent Effect of Focus on Updating Mental Representations
      (pp. 223-244)
      Herre van Oostendorp

      Common to most theoretical approaches to text comprehension is that readers construct a representation of incoming text information at different levels: a representation of the exact wording of the text surface representation), a propositional representation of the text’s meaning (textbase), and a model of the situation described by the text (situation model; van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983; Kintsch, 1998). When a text is read, these construction processes have to be synchronized as they proceed in a dynamic way. Readers appear to initiate a new structure when a new episode begins (global updating) and then map new information incrementally throughout the...

    • 12 Comprehension and Validation: Separable Stages of Information Processing? A Case for Epistemic Monitoring in Language Comprehension
      (pp. 245-276)
      Maj-Britt Isberner and Tobias Richter

      How and when do we realize that something we comprehend is inconsistent with our knowledge about the world? Is this realization a part of comprehension, or is it a voluntary decision process subsequent to comprehension? Is it strategic — that is, dependent on an evaluative processing goal — or nonstrategic — that is, relatively fast, effortless, and difficult to suppress? Clearly, we cannot properly judge the truth or plausibility of something we do not comprehend. But can we comprehend something without also judging its truth or plausibility?

      Evaluation of information is widely considered an offline, downstream, voluntary process that is subsequent to comprehension...

  8. III Epistemological Groundings

    • 13 An Epistemological Perspective on Misinformation
      (pp. 279-296)
      Andrea A. diSessa

      My aim in this chapter is to bring a slightly exotic perspective, that of epistemology (the study of knowledge, per se), to the study of misinformation. How is it that humans suffer the effects of believing things that are not true? Where does misinformation come from, what are its properties and consequences, and how might we mitigate the acquisition or consequences of misinformation?

      My personal research specialty is the study of conceptual change, particularly in learning science (physics). It has long been known that some curricular topics are particularly challenging at least in part because students start with intuitive ideas...

    • 14 Percept–Concept Coupling and Human Error
      (pp. 297-328)
      Patricia A. Alexander and Peter Baggetta

      The purpose of this edited volume is to tackle the pervasive and perplexing problem of errors in human information processing, including the well-documented tendency of individuals to embrace information that is unsubstantiated, flawed, or even contradictory (Ayers & Reder, 1998; Lewandowsky, Ecker, Seifert, Schwarz, & Cook, 2012; Modell, Michael, & Wenderoth, 2005; Pfundt & Duit, 1994; Rapp, 2008). The goal is to understand why such unsatisfactory situations occur and what can be done to rectify or ameliorate this all-too-common but less-than-optimal human condition. What we intend to demonstrate in this theoretical and empirical analysis is that the deeper understanding of...

    • 15 Cognitive Processing of Conscious Ignorance
      (pp. 329-350)
      José Otero and Koto Ishiwa

      Encoding and utilizing inaccurate information is a way of being ignorant. This and other manifestations of ignorance, such as errors or biases in judgments, have been of interest to researchers in psychology, education, and several other disciplines. In fact, the study of ignorance dates back to at least 1440, when Nicholas of Cusa, a German cardinal and philosopher, wrote a treatise on God, the Universe, and Jesus Christ entitled “De Docta Ignorantia.” Nicholas of Cusa examined the limitations of human understanding and what is now termed “conscious ignorance.” However, the explicit and systematic study of ignorance in its various forms...

  9. IV Emerging Models and Frameworks

    • 16 The Knowledge Revision Components (KReC) Framework: Processes and Mechanisms
      (pp. 353-378)
      Panayiota Kendeou and Edward J. O’Brien

      In formal and informal settings we continually encode, use, integrate, and manipulate information that becomes a part of our long-term knowledge base. It is a common problem that often when we first encode information about a particular topic, initial information turns out to be incomplete or even factually incorrect. Nevertheless, that information resides in our knowledge base unhindered until and/or unless on a subsequent occasion we encode new information related to this topic. Newly encoded information may extend or deepen the existing knowledge base by adding information that builds on it. Alternatively, the new information may directly conflict with information...

    • 17 The Content–Source Integration Model: A Taxonomic Description of How Readers Comprehend Conflicting Scientific Information
      (pp. 379-402)
      Marc Stadtler and Rainer Bromme

      When readers approach multiple documents to learn about a scientific debate, it is most likely that they will encounter conflicting views. Knowledge claims published on the Internet, for example, may be based on all sorts of information including accurate insights derived from cutting-edge research as well as idiosyncratic speculations that experts could easily prove wrong (Andreassen et al., 2007). A common concern is that individuals often miss conflicts, overestimate their epistemic capabilities, and acquire information that is deemed inaccurate when evaluated against scientific standards (Brossard & Scheufele, 2013; Scharrer, Bromme, Britt, & Stadtler, 2012; Stadtler, Scharrer, Brummernhenrich, & Bromme, 2013)....

    • 18 Inaccuracy and Reading in Multiple Text and Internet/Hypertext Environments
      (pp. 403-424)
      Peter Afflerbach, Byeong-Young Cho and Jong-Yun Kim

      We have several goals for this chapter. We begin with a description of the situated nature of inaccuracy, considering it in relation to models of text comprehension and strategic reading. We propose that the cooperative principle (Grice, 1975) is helpful in accounting for the context-dependent nature of inaccuracy and how the dynamics of reader, text, goal, and situation contribute to the determination that information is inaccurate. We provide three scenarios involving multiple text and Internet reading to illustrate the situated nature of inaccuracy. Then, we synthesize existing research to describe the strategies used by successful readers for determining when text...

    • 19 Epistemic Cognition and Evaluating Information: Applying the AIR Model of Epistemic Cognition
      (pp. 425-454)
      Clark A. Chinn, Ronald W. Rinehart and Luke A. Buckland

      In this chapter, we elaborate a model of epistemic cognition and explain how this model can be applied to help account for how people evaluate information, including inaccurate information.Epistemic cognitionrefers to the complex of cognitions that are related to the achievement of epistemic ends; notable epistemic ends include knowledge, understanding, useful models, explanations, and the like. We call our model the AIR model, with the three letters of the acronym referring to the three components of epistemic cognition: Aims and value, epistemicIdeals, andReliable processes for achieving epistemic ends. We will explain each of these components of...

  10. Index
    (pp. 455-468)