People who are great at digging up answers to any old question online tend to think they're more knowledgeable on any given subject that they are, according to a Yale Study. Having a vague idea about a subject leads Internet sleuths to conflate their own knowledge, while those who don't regularly rely on search engines have a more realistic view of their intellect.
Over 1,000 individuals participated in the Yale-led study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology on March 30. The study's psychologists discovered that the net-know-it-all effect, could be produced repeatedly, according to Matthew Fisher, a Ph.D. student and lead author of the study.
"People who search for information tend to conflate accessible knowledge with their own personal knowledge," says Fisher.
In one of the first series of tests, researchers tasked a test group with finding answers to questions via the Internet and then rating their ability to explain their responses. Members of the control group were asked to rate their ability to explain the answer to the same question, without using a search engine.
In another test, both groups were given new questions and neither group was allowed to search the Internet for the answers.
In both tests, the Internet detectives rate themselves much higher than those who stated that they didn't regularly search our answers online. Yes, even without having the ability to search answers via the Internet, the individuals in "search mode" still regularly placed more confidence in their answers than the members of the control group.
Even when their search shows no answer, the cognitive effects of "search mode" could be powerful enough that people still feel more intelligent, stated Frank Keil, a professor and the senior author of the paper.
"The cell phone is almost like the appendage of their brain," said Keil. "They don't even realize it's not real until they become unplugged."
Those two factors, feeling smarter and being attached to smart devices, could be playing roles in the leading cause of traffic accidents among teens: distracted driving. Distracted driving, in general, among teens played a part in about six in 10 moderate-to-severe traffic accidents, AAA reports in a new study.
"Drivers were significantly more likely to be using cell phones (for talking or texting) when alone in the vehicle than when passengers were present," the study stated [pdf]. "While relatively rare in single-vehicle loss-of-control crashes, cell phone use was present in fully one third of road-departure crashes and nearly one-fifth of rear-end crashes in which the young driver struck the rear of another vehicle."
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