chapter  20
Diverging Information and Epistemic Change
Pages 13

Nowadays it is beyond dispute that epistemic cognition plays an important role for formal and informal learning. Therefore, it is worth investigating how epistemic cognition that is advantageous for understanding, interpreting, and evaluating knowledge claims can be fostered. Research and theories on epistemic change focus on this question. What we wish to highlight in this chapter is what epistemic change is and how it can be brought about. The studies we will review and draw conclusions from are mainly studies with adult participants, and the epistemic change found in these studies was prominently the outcome of short-term interventions. Specifically, we focus on how diverging information can influence epistemic change. We will consider all information that implies that knowledge about science-related topics (i.e. the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities) might be conflicting or contradictory as diverging information. In this regard, we will also briefly review literature on the interplay between epistemic cognition and diverging information, mainly from the research tradition of multiple documents literacy. At the end of the chapter, we will outline implications for theory, research, and practice, including the consideration of epistemic cognition as rather generative. This generative nature of epistemic cognition implies that people activate a specific set of cognitive elements when evaluating a knowledge claim, such as more or less specific epistemic beliefs, but beyond epistemic beliefs also topic-related content knowledge and knowledge about the research methods of a specific field, all influencing epistemic cognition. It is important to underline that we focus on epistemic change rather than epistemic development; the difference being that while the former might occur more rapidly and might be easier fostered by epistemic interventions, maturation plays an important role for the latter.