The Effect of Falsification and Confirmation on Recategorization
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Researchers argue that dissatisfaction with a misconception is a prerequisite for adopting an alternative conception. An important cause of dissatisfaction is falsification. The present study investigated the importance of falsification and category induction opportunities when overriding a prior conception in favor of a new conception. Participants in the confirmation condition saw instances from which they could induce a novel method for categorization, but saw no instances in which they could directly falsify their prior conception. Participants in the complete condition saw both falsification and novel-categorization-induction opportunities. Participants in the falsification condition could falsify the misconception, but received ambiguous target induction opportunities. All three conditions were successful in learning the novel categorization method. However, the confirmation condition adopted the novel categorization method in fewer training blocks than both the complete and falsification conditions. The results suggest that, contrary to widespread belief in the conceptual change literature, removing direct falsification opportunities, but providing induction opportunities is an effective method for prompting conceptual change and can result in faster change. Implications for future research and limitations are discussed.