Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Think you'll ace that test? Think again, then start studying

Date:
March 23, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
We hold many beliefs about memory -- for instance, if you study more, you learn more. We are also constantly making judgments about particular instances of learning and remembering -- I'll never forget this party! That was easy to understand. I'll ace it on the test.

We hold many beliefs about memory -- for instance, if you study more, you learn more. We are also constantly making judgments about particular instances of learning and remembering -- I'll never forget this party! That was easy to understand. I'll ace it on the test.

But do beliefs influence judgments, and how do judgments affect memory performance? "There's a disconnect among beliefs, judgments, and actual memory," says Williams College psychologist Nate Kornell. Ask people to predict how or what they will learn and "in many situations, they do a breathtakingly bad job."

Why? A new study by Kornell -- with Matthew G. Rhodes of Colorado State University, Alan D. Castel of University of California/Los Angeles, and Sarah K. Tauber of Kent State University -- posits that we make predictions about memory based on how we feel while we're encountering the information to be learned, and that can lead us astray. The study will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers conducted three experiments, each with about 80 participants from teenagers to senior citizens. To test the relationships between "metamemory" -- or beliefs and judgments about memory -- and performance, they looked at two factors: the ease of processing information and the promise of future study opportunities.

The participants were serially shown words in large or small fonts and asked to predict how well they'd remember each. In one iteration of the experiment, they knew they'd have either one more chance or none to study the words; in another, three more chances or none. Afterwards, they were tested on their memory of the words.

As expected, font size affected judgment but not memory. Because the larger fonts felt more fluently processed, participants thought they'd be easier to remember. But they weren't. The number of study opportunities did affect memory -- and the more repetitions, the better the performance. Participants predicted this would be so, but significantly underestimated the improvement additional study would yield. Belief affected judgment, but not much.

In a third experiment, participants were asked questions estimating the influence of font size and study on their learning. They still thought, incorrectly, that font size made a difference. But they were 10 times more sensitive to the number of study trials than in the earlier experiments. This time, they based their answers on their beliefs, not their immediate experiences and judgments.

What fools us? First, "automatic processing": "If something is easy to process, you assume you will remember it well," says Kornell. Second, there's the "stability bias": "People act as though their memories will remain the same in the future as they are right now." Wrong again.

Actually, "effortful processing" leads to more stable learning. And "the way we encode information is not based on ease; it's based on meaning." We remember what is meaningful to us.

It's unlikely we'll start checking our judgments every time we make one, says Kornell: "That's too slow." So we'll just have to study more than we think we have to. And to preserve memories, we'd be wise to keep a journal.

The article "The Ease of Processing Heuristic and the Stability Bias: Dissociating Memory, Memory Beliefs, and Memory Judgments" was recently published in Psychological Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Think you'll ace that test? Think again, then start studying." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151410.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, March 23). Think you'll ace that test? Think again, then start studying. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151410.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Think you'll ace that test? Think again, then start studying." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322151410.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins