Effects of information comprehensibility and argument type on lay recipients’ readiness to defer to experts when deciding about scientific knowledge claims


The present study investigated whether laypersons are aware of their own knowledge limitations when having to decide about the acceptability of scientific knowledge claims. Specifically, we tested whether laypeople are more prone to discount their actual dependence on experts after having read simplified science depictions. Lay recipients read scientific arguments varying in comprehensibility and argument type and thus in apparent easiness. We assessed participants’ inclination to rely on their own information evaluation rather than to seek out expert advice when deciding about claim acceptability. As expected, results showed lay recipients to be more confident in their own information evaluation and less inclined to turn to an expert for decision support after reading easy compared to difficult depictions.

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