Student Summer Scholars Manuscripts


Awareness of Belief Change About Gun Control Predicts Information Seeking

First Advisor

Michael Wolfe


beliefs, belief change, metacognition, information seeking


Cognition and Perception | Psychology


Product of the REACH Scholars Program

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When People change beliefs as a result of reading a text, are they aware of these changes? This question has been previously examined by Wolfe and Williams (2018), who found that recollections of initial beliefs tended to be biased in the direction of subjects current beliefs. The goal of the current study is to replicate these initial findings, and link this belief bias to behavioral outcomes. Across one experiment, subjects reported beliefs about gun control effectiveness during a prescreening session. In a subsequent experimental session, subjects read a one-sided text that advocated a belief consistent or inconsistent position on the topic. After reading, subjects reported their current beliefs and attempted to recollect their initial beliefs. Subjects were then given the option to read various additional articles about gun control effectiveness, as well as several control articles on a variety of topics. Consistent with Wolf and Williams (2018), subjects reading a belief inconsistent text were more likely to change their beliefs than those who read a belief consistent text. Recollections of initial beliefs tended to be biased in the direction of subjects' current beliefs. In addition, the subjects who more accurately recalled their past beliefs had a higher likelihood of reading more additional articles about gun control, but not control topics.