The Dynamic Learning Lab has developed a database of general knowledge questions — the Baruch College Norms (B-KNorms) — for research in its own and other labs (not for commercial use). B-KNorms is a database of 406 general knowledge questions spanning a wide variety of academically-related disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, mathematics, technology, history (American and World), geography, and arts and culture. Questions were selected to have a single correct answer that is one word, 3-12 letters in length, and to cover a range of difficulty. The correct answers have been verified as accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of January 2016. Over a 4-year span, we collected responses to these questions from 498 students at senior colleges at the City University of New York (CUNY), particularly Baruch College. In order to preserve motivation and effort in our participants, we elicited free recall responses and metacognitive judgments of accuracy for subsets of 120-200 questions rather than the full set. The subsets were chosen to challenge participants based on their preexisting knowledge. This practice resulted in a rich range of meaningful incorrect responses: the average number of responses per question is 210 (SD 70), with the least sampled question having 71 responses and the most sampled question having 354 responses.

The information in the B-KNorms has multiple uses for research in cognitive psychology, education, and even computer science, and perhaps in areas we haven’t even considered yet. We expect that one of the most common uses will be to select general knowledge questions that are relatively easy, medium, or difficult to answer correctly. The generalizability of the question difficulty to your population will depend largely on the similarity of that population to ours, but even so, some fluctuation in exact values should be expected. Differences will be largest for regionally specific questions (i.e., questions about New York locales). Our user-friendly CSV format simplifies access to standardized general knowledge stimuli and all the data contained therein is considered public domain and available for use in various not-for-profit research fields.

If you are interested in using the B-KNorms for your research, we provide more information about the questions and their answers in a user manual we provide with the B-KNorms itself.

If you have further questions about B-KNorms, you can view the B-KNorms FAQ.

To request access to the B-KNorms, please follow the procedure below:

  1. Complete this request form and electronically sign the included Data Transfer Agreement. A senior member of the research team will review your request. If access is granted to you, you will be sent a copy of the B-KNorms in CSV format and the user manual.
  2. You may use the B-KNorms in your own research. Collaborators may use the B-KNorms in the process of conducting your research, but please advise collaborators that if they wish to use the B-KNorms for their own research they must fill out the request form and sign the Data Use Agreement.