People confuse internet knowledge with their own




In today’s digital age, people are constantly connected to information online. This research provides evidence that on-demand access to external information, enabled by the Internet and search engines like Google, blurs the lines between internal and external knowledge, making people believe that they can (or do) remembered) of what they just found. Using Google to answer general knowledge questions artificially inflates people’s confidence in their own ability to remember and process information and leads to falsely optimistic predictions about what they will know without the Internet. When information is at hand, we may mistakenly believe that it is coming from inside our heads.


People frequently search the Internet for information. Eight experiments (m = 1,917) prove that when people “Google” for information online, they fail to distinguish between knowledge stored internally (in their own memories) and knowledge stored externally on the Internet. Compared to those who only use their own knowledge, people who use Google to answer general knowledge questions are not only more confident in their ability to access external information; they are also more confident in their own ability to think and remember. Moreover, those who use Google predict that they will know more in the future without the help of the Internet, a mistaken belief that both indicates a misattribution of prior knowledge and highlights a virtually important consequence of this. bad attribution: overconfidence when the Internet is no longer available. Although humans have long relied on external knowledge, the erroneous attribution of online knowledge to oneself can be facilitated by the fast and transparent interface between internal thinking and external information that characterizes online research. Searching online is often faster than searching internal memory, preventing people from fully recognizing the limits of their own knowledge. The Internet provides information in a transparent manner, consistent with internal cognitive processes and offering minimal physical clues that might draw attention to its contributions. As a result, people can lose sight of where their own knowledge ends and where Internet knowledge begins. Thinking with Google can lead people to confuse Internet knowledge with their own.


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