Wednesday, November 29, 2017


OK, I admit to being a bit baffled by the abstract of this study. Skim it yourself, or I'll paste below the key part that has me confused. Basically the study examines the difference between what people know (knowledge) and what people think they know. To explain, they're not the same but they're often correlated. Knowledgeable people also think, correctly so, that they're knowledgeable. But a lot of folks think they know a lot -- and they don't. Imagine your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving. That person.

So here's part of the abstract. I'll explain, best I can, below.
An online experiment reveals that cognitive style moderates the assumed relationship. Participants with a high need for cognition (NFC) feel more competent when confronted with a comprehensible news item; for participants with a low NFC, reading a less comprehensible news item resulted in a more pronounced sense of competence.
NFC just measures how much you enjoy thinking about stuff. It's a common variable in social science research, it's roots in persuasion studies. Anyway, those high in NFC feel more competent after a news story that makes sense. OK, we all get that. But those low in NFC feel more competent after reading a news story that makes no sense. WTF? What's wrong with these people? The study suggests they build this from peripheral cues in the story itself, such as technical terms and abbreviations.

Simply put, low NFC people grasp at straws to make themselves feel competent when they're not.

Yeah, your uncle.