Grasping Psychological Evidence: Integrating Evidentiary Practices in Psychology Instruction

Gideon Dishon, Sarit Barzilai, Johnatan Verissimo Yanai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spread of misinformation has underscored the importance of cultivating citizens’ competency to critically evaluate popular accounts of scientific evidence. Extending the prevailing emphasis on evidence in the natural sciences, we argue for fostering students’ understanding of psychological evidence and its communication in the media. In this study, we illustrate how this goal can be advanced in undergraduate psychology instruction by actively engaging students in evidence evaluation and design. We employed the Grasp of Evidence framework to document students’ evidence evaluation ideals and processes and how these changed over a course in which students engaged in a series of collaborative evidence evaluation and design tasks. Prior to instruction, students exhibited a mechanistic understanding of scientific methods, coupled with substantial reliance on personal experience. Following instruction, students demonstrated three key shifts in grasp of evidence: a shift in perception of the sources of psychological knowledge, a shift in views of scientific objectivity, and a shift in definitions of psychological phenomena. Analysis of students’ collaborative discourse highlighted three design principles that supported increasingly complex understandings of psychological evidence: collaborative critique and redesign of flawed studies, engagement with diverse sources of popular evidence, and confronting elusive conceptual constructs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-91
Number of pages36
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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