Focal topic “Epistemic beliefs and critical scientific thinking”

Project details

Funding Budgetary funds
Grant Term April 2016 -
Principal Investigator Dr. Tom Rosman
Project Staff -


Project Description

Since the rise of the internet, scientific knowledge is readily available to everyone. Individuals can use such knowledge to form an opinion about everyday issues or to make sensible and purposeful decisions: Should I worry about climate change? Is red wine really good for the heart? Should I raise my children bilingually?

Individuals differ in their beliefs whether research is able to provide universal answers to such questions. Moreover, they are often unsure whom to trust when findings from different studies contradict each other. In short: Individuals have very different perceptions about the nature of scientific knowledge. For example, one person might view scientific knowledge as an accumulation of absolute "facts" whereas another person might think of such knowledge as subjective "opinions" of researchers. Psychology and educational research investigate such phenomena under the umbrella term "epistemic beliefs ".

The focal topic »epistemic beliefs« focuses on how changes in epistemic beliefs might be induced through specialized interventions. Moreover, the effects of epistemic beliefs (e.g., on critical thinking or epistemic emotions) are investigated in the context of individuals dealing with conflicting information. For example, we empirically showed that confronting students with contradictory findings and inciting them to resolve the controversies by identifying moderating variables might be well-suited to induce epistemic change towards more differentiated epistemic beliefs.

Various cooperation projects have arisen in the context of the focal topic:

  • The effects of epistemic beliefs on the perceived practical value of general pedagogical knowledge in teacher education
    Dr. Samuel Merk (University of Tübingen), Dr. Jürgen Schneider (University of Tübingen), Julia Ruess (HU Berlin), Dr. Marcus Syring (LMU Munich)
  • Differential changes in teacher education students' epistemic beliefs in the context of a research-orientated seminar.
    Dr. Myriam Schlag (University of Mainz)
  • The interplay between subjective abilities and subjective study demands in teacher education students
    Dr. Carla Bohndick (University of Hamburg)
  • Psychology-specific epistemic beliefs across various academic fields Dr. Eva Seifried (Heidelberg University)



In press


  • Kerwer, M., Rosman, T., Wedderhoff, O., & Chasiotis, A. (2020). Disentangling the process of epistemic change: The role of epistemic volition. British Journal of Educational Psychology.

  • Rosman, T., Schlag, M., & Merk. S. (2020). Das Zusammenspiel epistemischer Überzeugungen und der Bedeutsamkeitseinschätzung pädagogisch-psychologischen Wissens im Lehramtsstudium: Längsschnittliche und querschnittliche Analysen. Psychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht, 67(3), 164-177.


  • Merk, S., & Rosman, T. (2019). Smart but evil? Student-teachers’ perception of educational researchers’ epistemic trustworthiness. AERA Open, 5(3), 1-18.

  • Rosman, T., Mayer, A.-K., Merk, S., & Kerwer, M. (2019).  On the benefits of ‘doing science’: Does integrative writing about scientific controversies foster epistemic beliefs? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 58, 85-101








  • Rosman, T., & Merk, S. (2019, August).
    Pre-service teachers’ epistemic trust in educational scientists: A ‘smart but evil’ stereotype? Paper presented at 18th Biennial EARLI Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, Köln.

  • Rosman, T., & Wedderhoff, O. (2019, Januar).
    Epistemic change and health information behavior in relation to cognitive conflict and confirmation bias: An empirical examination. Eingeladener Vortrag zum PostDoc-Kolloquium am IWM, Tübingen.


  • Rosman, T., & Seifried, E. (2018, September).
    The perception of psychology across higher education disciplines: Differences in absolute and multiplistic epistemic beliefs. Paper presented at 51. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGPs), Frankfurt/Main.

  • Rosman, T., & Seifried, E. (2018, August).
    Discipline-specific epistemic beliefs across disciplines in higher education: Combining intra- and interindividual perspectives. Paper presented at 11th International Conference on Conceptual Change: Epistemic Cognition and Conceptual Change, Klagenfurt, Austria.

  • Rosman, T. (2018, July).
    Epistemische Überzeugungen (nicht nur) in der Psychologie: Konzeptualisierung, Disziplinspezifität, Förderung. Eingeladener Vortrag zum Interdisziplinären Bildungskolloquium am Psychologischen Institut, Universität Heidelberg.







Contact person

Dr. Tom Rosman
Deputy Head "Research Literacy"

+49 (0)651 201-2284