The results show that group A had higher actual scores than group B and that group A was better at predicting their scores since there was a smaller difference between their estimates and actual scores.
The T-tests illustrate that these results were significant and this is consistent with the hypotheses. This suggests that unlike studies conducted by Houston (1983, p. 207, cited by Furnham et al. 2003, p. 102) and Furnham et al. (2003), psychology is not just common sense because participants with previous knowledge of psychology seemed to outperform those without.This difference may be accounted for by varying differences in the definitions of what constitutes prior knowledge.
In fact, in some cases only an interest in psychology or enrolment in an introductory psychology course was used to indicate psychological knowledge. Furthermore, studies such as that by Furnham et al. (1998) which asked participants to self-rate their prior knowledge provide a very subjective measure of this knowledge.
However, it is important to note that in this study individuals in group B would also have had some previous interest in psychology and had been at university studying psychology for two months, so perhaps in further research a group with no relationship to psychology should be compared to group A (i.e. students from another department).Actual scores of both groups were still quite low even though group A outperformed group B.
This supports McCutcheon’s findings that misconceptions about psychology are substantial in an introductory course (Furnham et al. 2003). These numerous misconceptions may be explained by the idea put forward by Thompson and Zamboanga that while frequent exposure to psychology in the media sometimes provides accurate understanding, people are also often subjected to folk psychology which can provide inaccurate knowledge (2003).Furthermore, the fact that group A was better at predicting their performance suggests that prior knowledge of a subject improves estimates of confidence for performance. This contradicts certain previous studies (Beyer 1990, 1998, 1999; Beyer ; Bowden 1997), however it would be useful to specify how close a prediction has to be to actual scores for it to qualify as an accurate prediction. Moreover, this study did not take into account whether predictions were underconfident or overconfident. In future research it would be valuable to explore whether prior knowledge makes participants more confident of their performance, or if individuals without prior knowledge overestimate their performance because they consider psychology to be common sense.Another interesting idea to explore in further studies would be whether or not gender plays a role in estimates of confidence.
This study suggests that those with previous knowledge of psychology are better at predicting their performance, but as undergraduate psychology courses often consist primarily of females it may be worthwhile to explore whether this also plays a role in the relationship between expectancies of performance and actual performance.The Pearson Product Moment Correlation analysis conducted illustrated that there was the relationship between estimate score and actual score was non-significant, thereby rejecting the hypothesis that there would be a positive correlational relationship between the two. This contradicts the role of expectancy in determining performance as emphasized by the Expectancy Value Theory (Eccles et al. 1998, cited by Cadinu et al. 2003).
However, this may again be accounted for by the fact that this study did not specify whether expectancies were underconfident or overconfident. Furthermore, the Expectancy Value Theory has not previously been applied to psychological knowledge and may not be appropriate for studies in this field.With regards to the questionnaire used in this study, future research may want to use a test which is less ambiguous and more related to A-level psychology studies as this may have confounded the results slightly. However, the questionnaire used was appropriate in that it was a general test of psychological knowledge and it had been used several previous studies.
Whatever test is used, there will most likely be some aspects of it which are slightly unsuitable. In order to limit the possible influences any questionnaire may have on results, it may however be useful in future research to employ a battery of somewhat varied tests.While this study suggests that prior knowledge influences performance on a test of psychological knowledge, further research needs to be done within a larger population to reinforce the idea that psychology is not simply common sense. Comparisons could be made between groups that consist of individuals more accurately classified as having knowledge of psychology versus not having knowledge. Furthermore, regarding the relationship between expectancy and performance, future research should specify whether predictions are overconfident or underconfident and could also explore whether gender plays a role in this relationship. A more varied and extensive selection of questionnaires could also be used to provide complete insight into knowledge of psychology. However, in conclusion it seems safe to say that there is more to psychology than “just” common sense and perhaps this will lead to further establishing the belief that psychology is a true science.ReferencesBeyer, S.
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