Common knowledge : examining the illusion of explanatory depth in transactive memory systems : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The Illusion of Explanatory Depth (IOED) describes an often-held belief that we understand and can explain complex causal relations better than we in fact can. Previous findings identified the IOED resulted in individuals but not in small transactive memory systems. The current study continued investigating the IOED in small transactive memory systems (TMS) to understand mechanisms which may underpin this, through an online experiment. 76 participants, 38 pairs of non-stranger dyads completed either the collaborative or nominal condition of the experiment. In the collaborative condition dyads completed the experiment together, nominal dyads completed it alone. Participants rated their own, their partner’s and their combined knowledge of bicycles on a scale of 1-10, before and after, completing two tasks requiring their knowledge of bicycles. Dyads in the nominal condition completed the tasks alone, dyads in the collaborative condition completed the task collaboratively. Participants were also asked to rate their confidence in their knowledge ratings and were timed how long they took to make ratings. Contrary to most IOED research, individuals self-assessed post-task knowledge ratings were higher than pre-task knowledge ratings. This increase in participant’s ratings occurred in knowledge ratings made about the self, their partner, and their combined knowledge as a dyad, despite considerable error rates. Participants showed low confidence in partner knowledge ratings, and equally high confidence in both self and dyad knowledge ratings. A correlation between both dyad pre- and post-task ratings and errors was found in nominal groups. This might tentatively suggest participants experienced a feeling of fluency and possible accuracy when assessing their shared knowledge held within the TMS. Future research could focus on how communication influences people’s predictions about performance of the dyad.