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The Relationship Between Previous Psychology Knowledge, Confidence, and A Knowledge Test in Psychology.

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Matt Ott The Relationship Between Previous Psychology Knowledge, Confidence, and A Knowledge Test in Psychology. Abstract This study sets out to ascertain whether psychology is simple common sense, by testing a relationship between previous psychology knowledge, performance in a knowledge test in the subject and the participants' confidence in their knowledge. 70 psychology students were presented with a multiple-choice test (a replication of the same used by Furnham (1996)) which set out to test their knowledge of a wide range of psychological theories, concepts and beliefs. Participants were to answer all 40 questions and then state whether or not they had done psychology A-level on the answer sheet. By giving an estimate of their score the students also exhibited their confidence in their knowledge. Findings showed that previous knowledge does lead to greater performance on the test, yet does not hold any relationship with confidence, which in turn has a good correlation with performance. INTRODUCTION In the modern day, psychology is constantly being criticised as "common sense" by the lay person. This consistent dispute has caused great dismissal of psychological findings as they are often seen by the lay person as simple common sense. Theories drawn by psychological research and findings are often discounted by the lay person as they are seen to be simple common knowledge. Indeed, many psychologists claim that our everyday or "folk" understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. This is called "folk" psychology, which plays a central role in our ability to predict and explain the behaviour of ourselves and others. It should be noted however, that the nature and status of "folk" psychology remains controversial. If psychology is common sense, what would be the expected result? Surely, there would be no distinguishing between the knowledge of skilled psychologists and the lay person. Yet as many studies have found, this is not entirely the case (see Nixon (1925) ...read more.


The results of this test can be seen in Figure 1 (below) Figure 1 r = .319 ; n = 70 ; p < .01 It is first necessary to clarify the different values. R is the Pearsons value (strength of correlation), n is the number of entries, and p is the probability of the results being due to chance. As can be seen from the figure above, the correlational value between previous psychological knowledge and performance on the test was .319, the number of data entries being 70, and a significance figure of < .01. This is therefore a weak positive relationship, and is statistically significant. A Pearsons test was also used to determine the correlation between judgments of confidence of performance in the test. Figure 2 (below) shows the processed data- Figure 2 r = .600 ; n = 70 ; p < .001 This shows that the Pearsons value for this correlation was .600, the number of entries 70, and the statistical significance was .001. It can therefore be gathered that this is a strong relationship, which is statistically significant. Through another Pearsons test between previous psychological knowledge and judgments of confidence, the following data was produced- Figure 3 r = .095 ; n = 70 ; p < not significant As can be seen from Figure 3, the correlational value was .095, and the statistical significance was in no way significant. It can therefore be stated that there is a next to no positive relationship between previous psychological knowledge and judgment of confidence, and is statistically not significant. Table 2 (shown below) shows processed data for the quasi-experimental hypotheses. It shows the mean and standard deviation of the estimated and real scores for both non-A level and A-level participants. Table 3 A-level? Mean Standard Deviation Estimate No 15.0 3.6 Yes 15.9 4.4 Score No 15.0 3.4 Yes 17.8 4.0 This table shows that for those who had not done psychology at A-level, the estimates of score produced a mean of ...read more.


This could mean that many scored lower than they should have done, due to misunderstanding of the questions, or inability to understand the reader. So to summarise, it was found via Pearsons test that there was a strong significant correlation between students who did psychology A-level/did not do A-level, and performance on the test. In other words, those who did A-level psychology scored higher on average than those who didn't. This is also backed up by the T-test carried out on the differences in scores between A-level students and non A-level students, which proved to be significant. Prior studies by Nixon (1925) and Tupper and Williams (1986) also showed this to be the case, stating that there were high levels of misconceptions of psychology in those participants who had no psychology knowledge. Furnham (1992) also proved this to be the case in his study carried out on 250 students. Statistical analysis of the correlation between confidence and performance showed there to be a good correlation between these two factors. This conclusion is opposed by Morgan P.J and Cleave-Hogg D (1994), who stated that on statistical analysis of results researching whether or not breadth of clinical experience and student levels of confidence were indicators of competency on standardized simulator performance-based assessments, there was no correlation between level of confidence and clinical grades or written examination marks. Finally, both pearsons testing and T-testing showed that there is no relationship between having done A-level psychology or not and levels of confidence, once again the study carried out by Morgan P.J and Cleave-Hogg D(1994) states the opposite of these findings, stating that "Analysis of data showed good correlation between clinical experience and level of confidence.". In conclusion, this study has made some interesting findings, some of which are backed up by previous research, some of which are opposed by other studies. Obviously, previous knowledge does lead to greater performance on knowledge tests, yet holds no influence on confidence. The study would therefore say that folk psychology holds less importance in modern day psychology, which is certainly not just common sense. ...read more.

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