Highly Prevalent but Not Always Persistent: Undergraduate and Graduate Student's Misconceptions About Psychology

Sean Hughes, Fiona Lyddy, Robin Kaplan, Austin Lee Nichols, Haylie Miller, Carmel Gabriel Saad, Kristin Dukes, Amy jo Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Although past research has documented the prevalence of misconceptions in introductory psychology classes, few studies have assessed how readily upper-level undergraduate and graduate students endorse erroneous beliefs about the discipline. In Study 1, we administered a 30-item misconception test to an international sample of 670 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students. Analyses indicated that participants identified and rejected the majority of misconceptions, with doctoral students performing better than their master's or undergraduate peers. In Study 2, we administered a revised version of our questionnaire to a novel sample of 557 students while controlling for number of years spent at university, psychology courses completed, and need for cognition. Once again, we found that graduate students rejected more, affirmed less, and reported lower levels of uncertainty than their undergraduate counterparts. Educational implications and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalTeaching of Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015



  • graduate students
  • misconceptions
  • need for cognition
  • psychology

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