Naive theories of intelligence and the role of processing fluency in perceived comprehension

David B. Miele*, Daniel C Molden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research overwhelmingly suggests that feelings of ease people experience while processing information lead them to infer that their comprehension is high, whereas feelings of difficulty lead them to infer that their comprehension is low. However, the inferences people draw from their experiences of processing fluency should also vary in accordance with their naive theories about why new information might be easy or difficult to process. Five experiments that involved reading novel texts showed that participants who view intelligence as a fixed attribute, and who tend to interpret experiences of processing difficulty as an indication that they are reaching the limits of their ability, reported lower levels of comprehension as fluency decreased. In contrast, participants who view intelligence as a malleable attribute that develops through effort, and who do not tend to interpret experiences of processing difficulty as pertaining to some innate ability, did not report lower levels of comprehension as fluency decreased. In fact, when these participants were particularly likely to view effort as leading to increased mastery, decreases in fluency led them to report higher levels of comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-557
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume139
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010

Keywords

  • Comprehension
  • Metacognition
  • Metacomprehension
  • Processing fluency
  • Theories of intelligence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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