Epistemological beliefs and the effect of authority on argument-counterargument integration: An experiment

Kelly Y. L. Ku*, Eva C. M. Lai, K. T. Hau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Personal epistemology describes an individual's beliefs about the structure, stability and sources of knowledge and knowing. These beliefs contribute to how we interpret information, weigh evidence and justify an argument. In this study, we examined whether exposure to information from an authoritative source affects Chinese students' performance in a subsequent argumentation task that required integrating conflicting views. Furthermore, we examined how epistemological beliefs interact with the effect of authoritative information on argumentation performance. 204 undergraduates participated. The results suggested that the participants who were experimentally exposed to authoritative information generated fewer counter reasons and produced arguments that were less elaborated and weaker in strength than those produced by participants who were not exposed to authoritative information. Specifically, the experimental manipulation had a more significant effect on those who held a belief that knowledge is drawn from authority than on those who perceived knowledge as constructed. In addition, the performance of those who believed knowledge is complicated and ever-changing was hampered under the experimental condition. Theoretical and practice-based implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-79
Number of pages13
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • Personal epistemology
  • Argumentation
  • Higher-ordering thinking
  • Reasoning
  • Higher education


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