Using persuasive refutation texts to prompt attitudinal and conceptual change

Published on Aug 1, 2020in Journal of Educational Psychology
· DOI :10.1037/EDU0000434
Ian Thacker4
Estimated H-index: 4
(SC: University of Southern California),
Gale M. Sinatra48
Estimated H-index: 48
(SC: University of Southern California)
+ 4 AuthorsMarianne Chevrier5
Estimated H-index: 5
(McGill University)
We investigated knowledge and attitudes before and after reading refutation texts augmented by different kinds of persuasive information and how emotions mediated the process of knowledge and attitude change. Undergraduates (N = 424) enrolled in 4 universities from 3 countries read a refutation text on genetically modified foods (GMFs) and were then randomly assigned to receive additional information about advantages of GMFs, disadvantages of GMFs, or both. After studying, students reading about advantages of GMFs had significantly more positive attitudes than students who read about disadvantages. There was also a significant reduction in misconceptions; participants in the positive-oriented text condition showed the largest learning gains, particularly those who held more positive initial attitudes. Epistemic emotions of curiosity, frustration, hope, and enjoyment mediated attitude change while confusion mediated relations between prereading attitudes and postreading knowledge. In addition, the direct relationship between prior attitudes and surprise was moderated by type of text. When reading about both advantages and disadvantages of GMFs, participants reported significantly less surprise when compared with those who read about either advantages or disadvantages of GMFs. To foster conceptual change when learning about complex topics, refutation texts may be paired with persuasive information that is aligned with accurate conceptions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
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