Extending the seductive allure of neuroscience explanations effect to popular articles about educational topics

Soo Hyun Im, Keisha Varma, Sashank Varma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations (SANE) is the finding that people overweight psychological arguments when framed in terms of neuroscience findings. Aim: This study extended this finding to arguments concerning the application of psychological findings to educational topics. Sample: Participants (n = 320) were recruited from the general public, specifically among English-speaking Amazon Mechanical Turk workers residing in the United States. Methods: We developed eight articles that orthogonally varied two processes (learning vs. development) with two disciplines (cognitive vs. affective psychology). We increased neuroscience framing across four levels: psychological finding alone, with an extraneous neuroscience finding (verbal), with an extraneous neuroscience finding (verbal) and graph, and with an extraneous neuroscience finding (verbal) and brain image. Participants were randomly assigned to one level of neuroscience framing and rated the credibility of each article's argument. Results: Seductive allure of neuroscience explanations effects were not ubiquitous. Extraneous verbal neuroscience framings, either alone or accompanied by graphs, did not influence the credibility of the application of psychological findings to educational topics. However, there was a SANE effect when educational articles were accompanied by both extraneous verbal neuroscience findings and brain images. This effect persisted even after controlling for individual differences in familiarity with education, attitude towards psychology, and knowledge of neuroscience. Conclusion: The results suggest that there is a SANE effect for articles about educational topics among the general public when they are accompanied by both extraneous verbal neuroscience findings and brain images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-534
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume87
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • educational neuroscience
  • individual differences
  • scientific reasoning
  • seductive allure of neuroscience explanations

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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