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Argumentation and the diffusion of counter-intuitive beliefs.

Abstract : Research in cultural evolution has focused on the spread of intuitive or minimally counterintuitive beliefs. However, some very counterintuitive beliefs can also spread successfully, at least in some communities-scientific theories being the most prominent example. We suggest that argumentation could be an important factor in the spread of some very counterintuitive beliefs. A first experiment demonstrates that argumentation enables the spread of the counterintuitive answer to a reasoning problem in large discussion groups, whereas this spread is limited or absent when participants can show their answers to each other but cannot discuss. A series of experiments using the technique of repeated transmission show that, in the case of the counterintuitive belief studied: (a) arguments can help spread this belief without loss; (b) conformist bias does not help spread this belief; and (c) authority or prestige bias play a minimal role in helping spread this belief. Thus, argumentation seems to be necessary and sufficient for the spread of some counterintuitive beliefs. (PsycINFO Database Record
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https://jeannicod.ccsd.cnrs.fr/ijn_03081507
Contributor : Charlotte Bultel <>
Submitted on : Friday, December 18, 2020 - 11:01:48 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 10, 2021 - 2:11:53 PM

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Nicolas Claidière, Emmanuel Trouche, Hugo Mercier. Argumentation and the diffusion of counter-intuitive beliefs.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, American Psychological Association, 2017, 146 (7), pp.1052-1066. ⟨10.1037/xge0000323⟩. ⟨ijn_03081507⟩

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