Belief in Corrective Feedback for Common Misconceptions: Implications for Knowledge Revision

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When correcting a common misconception, it seems likely that for corrective feedback to be effective, it needs to be believed. In 2 experiments, we assessed how participants’ belief in the validity of corrective feedback regarding individual misconceptions influenced knowledge revision. After responding about the validity of a set of misconceptions, participants received either a refutation alone (feedback that they were correct or incorrect) or a refutation accompanied by a supporting explanation, and then rated their belief in the corrective feedback. One week later, participants once again responded about the validity of the misconceptions. Across both experiments, participants corrected their misconceptions more often when they believed the corrective feedback. In addition, participants corrected their misconceptions more often when they had earlier received a refutation with a supporting explanation than when they had received the refutation only. This benefit of supportive explanations on knowledge revision was mediated by belief in the feedback, suggesting that explanations enhance the effectiveness of a correction by increasing belief in the feedback. These findings imply that successful correction of common misconceptions is likely enhanced by techniques that increase people’s belief in the validity of the corrective feedback.

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