Presentation Title

When do science and intuition begin to conflict?

Faculty Mentor

Andrew Young, Andrew Shtulman

Start Date

17-11-2018 8:45 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 9:00 AM

Location

C155

Session

Oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Evidence of explanatory coexistence, the phenomenon of conflicting intuitive and scientific beliefs, has been found in numerous studies on high school students, college students, and adults. When placed under a cognitive load, like time constraints, participants in these studies struggle to quickly and accurately verify statements about science. In the present research, we sought to replicate adult versions of this study with children. Fifty-one children (M = 8.4 years; SD = 2.1 years) verified, as quickly as possible, statements about life and matter before and after a tutorial on the scientific properties of life or matter. Half the statements were consistent with intuitive theories of the domain (e.g., “bricks have weight) and half were inconsistent (e.g., “air has weight”). Children received a 7-8 minute tutorial in one of the two domains in order to teach the correct version of these theories. Our results demonstrated that children were more accurate for intuition-consistent statements than intuition-inconsistent statements at pretest and posttest. Children also responded correctly faster to the intuition-consistent statements than intuition-inconsistent statements. These findings suggest children, who are newly encountering scientific theories, exhibit explanatory coexistence in a manner similar to adults. These results suggest the conflict between science and intuition cannot be eliminated altogether.

Summary of research results to be presented

As seen in Figure 1, children were more accurate for intuition-consistent statements than intuition-inconsistent statements at pretest and posttest, F(1, 49) = 221.7, p < .001. However, this effect was qualified by a three-way interaction between statement-type, test, and instruction, F(1, 178.1) = 6.52, p = .012, such that children’s accuracy for intuition-inconsistent statements improved in response to instruction, β = .11, 95% CI[.07, .16]. Notably, children with higher cognitive reflection scores learned more from instruction than children with lower cognitive reflection scores, F(1, 39.7) = 5.26, p = .027. As seen in Figure 2, children responded correctly faster to the intuition-consistent statements than intuition-inconsistent statements, F(1, 157.4) = 29.1, p < .001.

These findings suggest children, who are newly encountering scientific theories, exhibit explanatory coexistence in a manner similar to adults. Brief instruction in a given domain that targeted misconceptions did increase accuracy for intuition-inconsistent statements (particularly for reflective children), but changes in accuracy were not accompanied by changes in speed. These results suggest the conflict between science and intuition cannot be eliminated altogether. Ongoing work examines how cognitive reflection and response-time conflict moderate effects of instruction.

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Nov 17th, 8:45 AM Nov 17th, 9:00 AM

When do science and intuition begin to conflict?

C155

Evidence of explanatory coexistence, the phenomenon of conflicting intuitive and scientific beliefs, has been found in numerous studies on high school students, college students, and adults. When placed under a cognitive load, like time constraints, participants in these studies struggle to quickly and accurately verify statements about science. In the present research, we sought to replicate adult versions of this study with children. Fifty-one children (M = 8.4 years; SD = 2.1 years) verified, as quickly as possible, statements about life and matter before and after a tutorial on the scientific properties of life or matter. Half the statements were consistent with intuitive theories of the domain (e.g., “bricks have weight) and half were inconsistent (e.g., “air has weight”). Children received a 7-8 minute tutorial in one of the two domains in order to teach the correct version of these theories. Our results demonstrated that children were more accurate for intuition-consistent statements than intuition-inconsistent statements at pretest and posttest. Children also responded correctly faster to the intuition-consistent statements than intuition-inconsistent statements. These findings suggest children, who are newly encountering scientific theories, exhibit explanatory coexistence in a manner similar to adults. These results suggest the conflict between science and intuition cannot be eliminated altogether.