iple-choice questionnaire and found that English students generally did better than American students, though neither group answered more than half of the question correctly. While the authors offered no clear explanation for either the poor performance or the difference between the two groups, they speculated that selective reporting in the mass media may contribute to both the formation of misconceptions and their resolution. Martin, Sadler, and Baluch (1997) tested undergraduate students from psychology, sociology, business, English and engineering from Middlesex University, U.K. on their general knowledge of psychology. Questions on their test invited common sense but incorrect answers. Out of a possible score of 38, psychology students scored highest with an average score of 17.08 while engineering students scored lowest with 11.57. Martin et al. also found that engineering students were least likely to regard psychology as one of the hard sciences or even one of the social sciences. The present study followed up previous reports of students’ generally poor performance on tests of misconceptions about psychology. Specifically, we repeated a portion of Martin et al.’s (1997) study of misconceptions about psychology. We tested two Australian undergraduate classes, one introductory psychology class and one introductory engineering class, on a true/false test of common misconceptions about psychology adapted from Best (1982), a study that brought out the resistant nature of misconceptions held even by students of Psychology. This is an attempt at systematic replication of the Martin et al. (1997) study. The selected groups are ones that scored the highest and the lowest in the original study. The difference in their scores is the most distinct, and therefore has...
On the basis of Martin et al.'s work, this study attempted to verify if there was a difference in the number of misconceptions about Psychology held by students of Psychology (who were regularly exposed to information about the subject) and students of Engineering (who were not). The study hypothesized that students of an Introductory Psychology course would exhibit greater awareness and fall prey to less misconceptions about Psychology as compared to students of Introductory Engineering. This hypothesis was supported by the data collected; the t-value was found to be significant beyond the 0.001 level and the group of Psychology students had a higher mean score as compared to the group of Engineering students. This effect was also found to be of a reasonable size, allowing us to state with some confidence that area of study does seem to have some effect on misconceptions.
A limitation of the study could be that the questionnaire used has a dichotomous response set; and the chance of an individual getting the right answer is 50%. Thus, there is a possibility that the scores of guesses are influenced by chance factors. It has been suggested by McCutcheon that one possible way to reduce the influence of chance factors is to increase the number of response options. Another possibility is to introduce a correction score that would allow us to subtract the possible influence of chance from the total score. This would be similar to techniques used by Bennet et. al. in the construction of ability tests.