Date of Award

Fall 2011

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Edward J O'Brien


The goal of the present experiments was to explore the underlying cognitive processes that support individual belief revision. In three experiments the amount of relevant information pertaining to a misconception was systematically manipulated to assess the impact of text refuting a misconception and text explaining the correct information. Experiment I assessed the impact of the refutation. Experiment II assessed the joint impact of the refutation and the explanation. Finally, Experiment III assessed the impact of the explanation. Experiment I demonstrated that providing a refutation section that explicitly negated the misconception was sufficient to eliminate disruption when reading a sentence that contained the correct information. When the explanation was provided in Experiment II, the effect of the refutation increased significantly. Experiment III provided a close replication of effects found in Experiment II. The results of all three experiments support the use of text to enable the initial stages of belief revision.