Undergraduate Psychology Students’ Conceptions on Scientific Knowledge and Psychology-Specific Epistemological Beliefs

  • Zuraya Monroy-Nasr
  • Rigoberto León-Sánchez
  • Kirareset Barrera-García
  • Germán Alvarez-Díaz de León
Part of the Science: Philosophy, History and Education book series (SPHE)


The work starts by considering that epistemological beliefs are supposed to change and influence the way in which students understand and explain reality. These changes seem to go from a straightforward and direct “objective comprehension” of reality to a “subjective comprehension.” The research was carried out with a nonprobabilistic, intentional sample of 156 undergraduate psychology students of different semesters to assess and compare their conceptions of scientific knowledge and psychology-specific epistemological beliefs. The study used two questionnaires: Psychology-Specific Epistemological Beliefs (Psych-SEBS), designed by McMahan et al., and a modified questionnaire inspired by Raviolo et al. The authors adapted these questionnaires by focusing mainly on the students’ understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge, the concepts of scientific models and explanations, and the role of social and historical context in scientific production. The results do not support the expected difference between personal epistemologies of the participants, demonstrating that changes in epistemological beliefs are not linear. Moreover, beginner students tend to value the functional aspects of scientific theories (explanation and prediction) more, whereas advanced students acknowledge the influence of context on the generation of scientific knowledge more; the data suggest that both groups of students coordinate the objective and subjective aspects of knowledge.



This work has been supported by the research project DGAPA-PAPIIT IN402515/National Autonomous University of Mexico.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zuraya Monroy-Nasr
    • 1
  • Rigoberto León-Sánchez
    • 1
  • Kirareset Barrera-García
    • 1
  • Germán Alvarez-Díaz de León
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PsychologyNational Autonomous University of MexicoMexicoMexico

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