Seeing and doing are not believing: Investigating when and how conceptual knowledge impinges on observation and recall of physical motion

Jason W. Morphew, Eric Kuo, Quentin King-Shepard, Ryan Lin, Patrick Kwon, Timothy J. Nokes-Malach, Jose P. Mestre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

One standard pedagogical approach in physical science courses engages students in making predictions about physical phenomena that elicit non-normative expectations, then make observations intended to provide counterevidence that sparks conceptual change. This article presents five experiments investigating conditions where observation and recall are impacted by incorrect expectations and how these theory-laden observational errors might be mitigated. Using the context of balancing, Experiments 1-3 examine how the ambiguity of the stimuli may allow observers to selectively attend to information that is consistent with prior beliefs, while discounting incongruent information. As ambiguity is removed, the biasing effects of conceptual expectations are reduced. Experiments 4 and 5 extend the findings to investigate whether the effect of conceptual expectations also applies to memory of one's own bodily experiences of balancing. The results suggest that the ambiguity-driven, theory-laden observation effects found for visual observation, do not necessarily translate to recall for an embodied action, even though the experience of balancing contained perceptuo-motor ambiguity. Taken altogether, these five experiments show how conceptual knowledge can impinge on accurate recall of observations or embodied experiences and that instruction engaging students with demonstrations or embodied experiences may not necessarily provide intended counterevidence that contradicts prior expectations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-323
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of experimental psychology. Applied
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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