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Joyce Ehrlinger | Social Cognition Lab JOYCE EHRLINGER | SOCIAL COGNITION LAB

Dr. Ehrlinger’s Research on Overconfidence Published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology!

Understanding Overconfidence: Theories of Intelligence, Preferential Attention and Distorted Self-Assessment


Knowing what we don’t yet know is critical for learning. Nonetheless, people typically overestimate their prowess—but is this true of everyone? Three studies examined who shows overconfidence and why. Study 1 demonstrated that participants with an entity (fixed) theory of intelligence, those known to avoid negative information, showed significantly more overconfidence than those with more incremental (malleable) theories. In Study 2, participants who were taught an entity theory of intelligence allocated less attention to difficult problems than those taught an incremental theory. Participants in this entity condition also displayed more overconfidence than those in the incremental condition, and this difference in overconfidence was mediated by the observed bias in attention to difficult problems. Finally, in Study 3, directing participants’ attention to difficult aspects of the task reduced the overconfidence of those with more entity views of intelligence. Implications for reducing biased self-assessments that can interfere with learning were discussed.

For more details and to view the full article clink on the following link:

Happy Holidays from the Social Cognition Lab!


Santa (aka our thoughtful and crafty post-doc) made a special stop this year and delivered goodies to our lab meeting. Thank you, Marissa! We are so lucky to have you on our research team.

Happy Holidays! Wishing you and your loved ones a festive season filled with joy and a peaceful and prosperous new year.


Mycah Harrold and Jordan Vossen’s Poster Submissions have been Accepted for Presentation at the 2016 SPSP Annual Convention in San Diego, California

Congratulations Mycah and Jordan! The lab is happy to acknowledge that two of our graduate students have been asked to present their research at the 2016 SPSP Annual Convention in San Diego, California. The convention will be held this coming January 28th-30th.

Mycah will be presenting a poster titled “Incremental Theories Predict Academic Success through Time Spent Studying”

Abstract: Incremental theorists, who view intelligence as malleable, perform better academically than entity theorists, who view intelligence as fixed. Little is known about the specific behaviors that contribute to incremental theorists’ relative success. The present study sought to fill this gap in the literature by asking 243 high-school students to complete two math tutorials and 14 practice problems in their normal math classes. A test of sustained learning was administered one week later. Incremental theorists spent more time completing the practice questions which led to more correct answers. Higher scores on the practice questions predicted better performance on the final test. Results revealed an indirect effect of intelligence theory on sustained learning through the amount of time spent on practice problems and, in turn, success on those problems. Thus, incremental theorists may achieve more academically than entity theorists, in part, because they persist longer while studying.

Jordan will be presenting a poster titled “Perceiving an Entity Theory in the Classroom Environment Increases Math Anxiety and Lowers Test Performance”

Abstract: Personal theories of intelligence range from the belief that intelligence is malleable (incremental theory) to believing intelligence is fixed (entity theory). Students’ classroom theories also range from believing that a strong entity or, on the other end of the scale, a strong incremental theory is predominantly held by others in one’s math class. Past research has demonstrated that for personal theories, stronger incremental views predict academic success, but less is known about the consequences of perceived classroom theories. We found that both classroom and personal entity theories independently lead to higher math anxiety. In contrast, an incremental perspective—held by the self or perceived in the classroom— acts as a buffer leading to lower math anxiety and, in turn, better performance. This suggests that fostering an incremental theory in the classroom, in addition to personally held incremental views, can benefit students’ academic performance.

Description: In this field study, student perceptions of entity theories in the classroom predicts increased math anxiety independent of personal intelligence theories. An incremental perspective, both when perceived in the classroom and when held personally, acts as a buffer leading to lower math anxiety, and in turn, better academic performance.