Does Associative Memory Play a Role in Solving Physics Problems?
Cognitive Science Society
Previous research has found that people frequently provide incorrect predictions about the path of moving objects when given an idealised physics problem to solve. The aim of this research was to explore whether these incorrect predictions are due to the application of an incorrect naïve physics theory, whether incorrect perceptions generated from past experiences lead to misconceptions of how moving objects behave, or whether it is a combination of both. Thirty-one participants volunteered to take part in the experiment which followed a two (experience congruent/incongruent with naïve physics theory) by two (carried versus free-moving object) within-subject design. The dependent variable was participant response (straight down or curved forwards). Results of the study revealed that participants provided answers both consistent and inconsistent with the naïve physics theory. This suggests that responses were primarily elicited through the retrieval of associatively-mediated memories of similar scenarios - some of which contain perceptual illusions. Possible methodological limitations and alternative theoretical explanations are discussed, along with practical and theoretical implications for education and learning.
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CogSci 2017: 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, London, UK, 26 - 29 July 2017, pp. 3546 - 3551
Place of publication