Competitive Routes to Belief and Their Impact on Future Learning


Models of belief formation and conceptual change have begun to allow for affective preferences and motives to supplement normative processes, such as reasoning and coherence evaluation (Kunda, 1990; Thagard, 2006). Griffin (2008) goes a step further in arguing that affect can be a separate competitive route to belief formation that could prevent these normative processes from taking place. One implication is that affect-based beliefs will lack the conceptual coherence presumably produced by engaging in reasoning and coherence evaluation processes. Borrowing from the expertise literature (e.g., Ericsson & Kintsch, 1995), this reduced conceptual coherence should hinder one’s ability to represent new domain-related information. We present a study showing that a person’s route to belief (evidence or emotion based) predicts their comprehension of belief-relevant information, even after controlling for several general and domain-specific individual differences in knowledge, skills, dispositions, motivation, and task engagement.

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