Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Beliefs and attitudes can influence reasoning

Beliefs and attitudes can influence reasoning

People’s beliefs and attitudes play a key role in the way they evaluate information, according to an academic at Victoria University of Wellington.

In multiple studies investigating how people learn, Dr Matt McCrudden, an Associate Professor in Victoria’s Faculty of Education, found that high school and tertiary students of similar age and reading ability were interpreting text they had read in very different ways.

Subsequently Dr McCrudden focused his research on text about controversial topics, such as same sex marriage and climate change, and found that differences in interpretation could largely be attributed to the reader’s preconceived beliefs.

“People’s biases often came into play when they were evaluating information that they already had an opinion on,” says Dr McCrudden.

“They were inclined to focus on information that supported their point of view, rather than objectively weighing up the facts.”

This finding has been reinforced by a recent study Dr McCrudden carried out, which examined how people evaluate information about climate change.

“For instance, people with opposing views on whether or not climate change is happening used the same piece of information—that ‘in Sydney Australia in 2013 the average temperature in October was 22 degrees, whereas in 2012 it was 21 degrees’—to support their point of view.

“It appears that many people were prepared to draw strong conclusions based on weak evidence such as temperatures over a couple of years rather than looking at climate patterns over three decades or more which is an essential aspect of the climate change debate,” says Dr McCrudden.

“A key feature of effective critical thinking is the ability to evaluate information independently from one’s beliefs. However, effective critical thinking can be a challenge if people discount or dismiss information consistent or inconsistent with their beliefs.”

Dr McCrudden says one possible way to minimise belief-motivated reasoning in an educational setting would be to give students pre-reading task instructions that encourage them to consider the merit of both sides of an issue.

“This may prompt students to actively question their beliefs, seriously consider alternative views, or update their topic knowledge. However, more research is needed to understand the conditions under which task instructions affect topic beliefs.”


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news