Exploring the illusion of understanding in small transactive memory systems : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Health Science in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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People typically overestimate their ability to explain how artefacts and other complex phenomena work – this is known as the illusion of understanding (IOU). In an online experiment, we aimed to identify if an IOU occurs in both individuals and small transactive memory systems. Participants (N = 46, 23 pairs) completed the experiment at the same time as their self-selected partner. Individuals rated their own, partners’, and combined knowledge of bicycles, on a scale of 1-7, before and after completing individual and collaborative tasks that drew on their bicycle knowledge. The strength of relationships between pre- and post-task individual, partners’, and combined ratings of knowledge and number of errors made on the individual and collaborative drawing tasks were analysed. Individuals’ pre-task ratings (M = 4.74) were higher than their post-task ratings (M = 4.39, t(45) = 2.27, p < .001). People rated their own personal knowledge (before the task) as lower than they rated their collaborative knowledge (after the task), the difference between means was M = .65, p <.001. Contrary to predictions, there was a stronger relationship between individual pre- and post-task ratings (r = .83, p < .001) than for individual pre-task and collaborative post-task ratings (r = .60, p = <.001) (z = -3.26, p <.001). The relationship between individual pre-task ratings and collaborative performance errors (r = .19, p >.05) was significantly stronger than the relationship between individual pre-task ratings and individual performance errors (r = -.23, p = .066) (z = - 1.53, p =.062). Results showed an IOU in individuals but not in small transactive memory systems. Future research could investigate how individuals make their ratings and inspect the distribution of pre- and post-task ratings.