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Improving memory after interruption: Exploiting soft constraints and manipulating information access cost

Morgan, Phillip L., Patrick, John, Waldron, Samuel Matthew, King, Sophia L. and Patrick, Tanya 2009. Improving memory after interruption: Exploiting soft constraints and manipulating information access cost. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 15 (4) , pp. 291-306. 10.1037/a0018008

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Forgetting what one was doing prior to interruption is an everyday problem. The recent soft constraints hypothesis (Gray, Sims, Fu, & Schoelles, 2006) emphasizes the strategic adaptation of information processing strategy to the task environment. It predicts that increasing information access cost (IAC: the time, and physical and mental effort involved in accessing information) encourages a more memory-intensive strategy. Like interruptions, access costs are also intrinsic to most work environments, such as when opening documents and e-mails. Three experiments investigated whether increasing IAC during a simple copying task can be an effective method for reducing forgetting following interruption. IAC was designated Low (all information permanently visible), Medium (a mouse movement to uncover target information), or High (an additional few seconds to uncover such information). Experiment 1 found that recall improved across all three levels of IAC. Subsequent experiments found that High IAC facilitated resumption after interruption, particularly when interruption occurred on half of all trials (Experiment 2), and improved prospective memory following two different interrupting tasks, even when one involved the disruptive effect of using the same type of resource as the primary task (Experiment 3). The improvement of memory after interruption with increased IAC supports the prediction of the soft constraints hypothesis. The main disadvantage of a high access cost was a reduction in speed of task completion. The practicality of manipulating IAC as a design method for inducing a memory-intensive strategy to protect against forgetting is discussed

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1939-2192
Last Modified: 14 May 2019 13:20

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