Trust your Gut…Even on an Exam?
Everyone has heard that same last-minutes test taking tip “Trust your gut or you’ll change right answers to wrong ones!”, and I’m sure everyone has been taken a test in which you spend about 5 minutes debating whether you should change one of your multiple choice answers. Part of you wants to trust your gut, but the other half pulls you away from that choice. So what is the right thing to do? Trust your gut or go against all socially contrived advice and change it to that other answer that you just can’t stop thinking about? According to Hobbes, you should trust your gut.
In chapter 29 of Leviathan, Hobbes states “…whatsoever a man does against his conscience, is sin…” (229). In correlation to this statement comes the thought as to whether one’s initial judgement is, in this sense, worse than allowing your judgement to become flooded with conflicting ideas that draw you away. Hobbes justifies his aforementioned statement by adding, “…he has no other rule to follow but his own reason…” (229). I can see what Hobbes is saying: there has to be some justification as to why you choose that first answer. Maybe the myth (and Hobbes) are right in wanting to trust your gut, but I for one (as well as numerous studies) disagree with this accusation.
I personally feel that, although there had to be something that drew my attention to the initial answer choice, it is advantageous for the test taker to apply the knowledge he/she has accumulated to make their most accurate judgement. And believe it or not, social science has my back. According to a study by L.T. Benjamin, T.A. Cavell, and W.R. Schallenberger entitled “Staying with the initial answers on objective tests: Is it a myth?”, “The data across twenty separate studies indicate that the percentage of ‘right to wrong’ changes is 20.2%, whereas the percentage of ‘wrong to right’ changes is 57.8%, nearly triple” (1984). In researching this topic, I found numerous studies that hypothesized against the myth and found positively correlated results, further denouncing the myth.
Maybe it’s all mental, maybe there is some truth to it. What do you think?
Benjamin, L. T., Cavell, T. A., & Shallenberger, W. R. (1984). Staying with the initial answers on objective tests: Is it a myth? Teaching of Psychology, 11, 133-141.