Searching for answers online leads to an illusion such that externally accessible information is conflated with knowledge “in the head”. This holds true even when controlling for time, content, and search autonomy during the task . Furthermore, participants who used the Internet to access explanations expected to have increased brain activity, corresponding to higher quality explanations, while answering unrelated questions . This effect is not driven by a misinterpretation of the dependent measure or general overconfidence and is driven by querying Internet search engines. (…)
After using Google to retrieve answers to questions, people seem to believe they came up with these answers on their own; they show an increase in “cognitive self-esteem,” a measure of confidence in one’s own ability to think about and remember information, and predict higher performance on a subsequent trivia quiz to be taken without access to the Internet. These fact-based effects are depen- dent on the reliability and the familiarity of the search engine, suggesting the processes by which the Internet affects cognition function differently across types of knowledge.