The effects of sociocultural changes on epistemic thinking across three generations in Romania

Amalia Ionescu, Raluca Furdui, Alin Gavreliuc, Patricia M. Greenfield, Michael Weinstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When people experience abrupt social change, from less education to more, from less technology use to more, from a homogeneous to a heterogeneous social environment, can their epistemic thinking adapt? When divergent opinions suddenly come to be valued, does epistemic thinking shift from absolute to more relativistic? We investigate whether and how these sociocultural shifts have produced changes in epistemic thinking in Romania, a country that fell from communism and started democracy in 1989. Our 147 participants were from Timisoara and fell into three groups, each experiencing the shift at a different point in their development: (i) born in 1989 or later, experiencing capitalism and democracy throughout life (N = 51); (ii) 15- to 25-years-old in 1989 when communism fell (N = 52); (iii) 45 or older in 1989 when communism fell (N = 44). As hypothesized, absolutist thinking was less frequent and evaluativist thinking, a relativistic epistemological mode, was more frequent the earlier in life a cohort was exposed to the post-communist environment in Romania. As predicted, younger cohorts experienced greater exposure to education, social media, and international travel. Greater exposure to education and social media were significant factors in the decline of absolutist thinking and the rise of evaluativist thinking across the generations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0281785
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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