Research Results on University Students' Biology- and Psychology-Specific Epistemic Beliefs

ZPID's Tom Rosman and two other researchers have investigated whether university students perceive the discipline of biology as more absolute and less multiplistic than the discipline of psychology. The paper is now available.

"We expected, among other things, students from so called 'hard' disciplines to perceive biology as more absolute and less multiplistic than students from soft disciplines", says Tom Rosman, head of ZPID's research unit "Research Literacy". Together with Eva Seifried (Heidelberg University) and Samuel Merk (University of Tübingen) he combined inter- and intraindividual approaches to investigate university students' epistemic beliefs, which are beliefs about the nature and structure of knowledge. 

Results revealed that university students generally perceive biology as more absolute and less multiplistic compared to psychology. However, the expected differences between students from 'hard' and 'soft' disciplines in biology-specific epistemic beliefs did not emerge. This elicits doubt that students from hard disciplines espouse a fundamentally different set of epistemic beliefs than their peers from soft disciplines. 

"Considering the knowledge gained throughout our Bayesian analyses, we suggest that the devaluation and denigration of science, as indicated by high multiplism and low epistemic trust, may happen in students from any discipline", states Tom Rosman. "We therefore think that developing interventions that are suited for a broad range of students should be a key element of future research in the growing field of epistemic cognition."

The paper "Combining Intra- and Interindividual Approaches in Epistemic Beliefs Research" has been published in Frontiers in Psychology. To read the article, please visit:

Frontiers in Psychology is the largest journal in its field, publishing rigorously peer-reviewed research across the psychological sciences. 

ZPID's research unit "Research literacy and User-Friendly Research Support" aims to support research literacy and evidence-based thinking in both scientists and laypeople. For this purpose, it explores the development of competencies and beliefs which are needed to adequately evaluate and use scientific information.