Trent N. Cash

Ph.D. Student at Carnegie Mellon University

Parental rights or parental wrongs: Do parents know what factors influence their school choice decisions? (In Press)


Journal article


Trent N. Cash, Daniel M. Oppenheimer
PLOS ONE

Cite

Cite

APA   Click to copy
Cash, T. N., & Oppenheimer, D. M. Parental rights or parental wrongs: Do parents know what factors influence their school choice decisions? (In Press). PLOS ONE.


Chicago/Turabian   Click to copy
Cash, Trent N., and Daniel M. Oppenheimer. “Parental Rights or Parental Wrongs: Do Parents Know What Factors Influence Their School Choice Decisions? (In Press).” PLOS ONE (n.d.).


MLA   Click to copy
Cash, Trent N., and Daniel M. Oppenheimer. “Parental Rights or Parental Wrongs: Do Parents Know What Factors Influence Their School Choice Decisions? (In Press).” PLOS ONE.


BibTeX   Click to copy

@article{trent-a,
  title = {Parental rights or parental wrongs: Do parents know what factors influence their school choice decisions? (In Press)},
  journal = {PLOS ONE},
  author = {Cash, Trent N. and Oppenheimer, Daniel M.}
}

Abstract

School choice initiatives – which empower parents to choose which schools their children attend – are built on the assumptions that parents know what features of a school are most important to their family and that they are capable of focusing on the most important features when they make their decisions. However, decades of psychological research suggest that decision makers lack metacognitive knowledge of the factors that influence their decisions. We sought to reconcile this discrepancy between the policy assumptions and the psychological research. To do so, we asked participants to complete Choice-Based Conjoint surveys in which they made series of choices between different hypothetical schools. We then asked participants to self-report the weight they placed on each attribute when making their choices. Across four studies, we found that participants did not know how much weight they had placed on various school attributes. Average correlations between stated and revealed weights ranged from r = .34 - .54. Stated weights predicted different choices than revealed weights in 16.41 - 20.63% of decisions. These metacognitive limitations persisted regardless of whether the participants were parents or non-parents (Study 1a/1b), the nature of the attributes that participants used to evaluate alternatives (Study 2), and whether or not decision makers had access to school ratings that could be used as metacognitive aids (Study 3). In line with prior psychological research – and in contract to policy assumptions – these findings demonstrate that decision makers do not have particularly strong metacognitive knowledge of the factors that influence their school choice decisions. As a result, parents making school choice decisions are likely to seek out and use the wrong information, thus leading to suboptimal school choices. Future research should replicate these results in more ecologically valid samples and test new approaches to school choice that account for these metacognitive limitations. 

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