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 April 25, 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 April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
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