Students who get information, then re-tell it to someone soon after, may recall it better — and longer

No, this isn’t a study that confirms that “‘é!§! learning pyramid, it’s more in line with previous research, as this new research by psychologist Melanie Sekeres and colleagues shows that students who are given information and tell someone about it shortly afterward recall the details better and longer.

From the press release:

“This has to be actively replaying or re-generating the information — for example, by telling someone the particulars, as opposed to just simply re-reading the textbook or class notes and studying it again later,” said Baylor psychologist Melanie Sekeres, Ph.D. She is lead author of the study, published in the journal Learning & Memory.

“A week later, the memory was just as good,” she said. “Telling someone else about what you’ve learned is a really effective way for students to study instead of just re-reading the textbook or class notes.”

In the study, students were shown 24-second clips from 40 films over a period of about half an hour. The study focused on their retention of both the general plot of the films as well as such details as sounds, colors, gestures, background details and other peripheral information that allow a person to re-experience an event in rich and vivid detail, said Sekeres, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Researchers also found that giving students a brief visual cue from the movie later — even a simple glimpse of the title and a sliver of a screenshot taken from the film — seemed to jog the memory.

“With a cue, suddenly, a lot of those details will come back,” Sekeres said. “We don’t permanently forget them, which would indicate lack of storage — we just can’t immediately access them. And that’s good. That means our memories aren’t as bad as we think.”

Much research on memory examines how brain damage or aging affects recall, but “we wanted to look at the normal course of forgetting in healthy brains — and if anyone should have a good memory, it’s healthy young adults,” Sekeres said. “While the strategy of re-telling information — known as ‘the testing effect’ — has been shown to be a really effective study technique time and again, this study is novel in looking at how our memories change over time for a specialized group.”

Researchers studied three groups of undergraduate students, each with 20 participants, with an average age of 21. After viewing the film clips, researchers asked what they remembered about the films after delays ranging from several minutes after the showings up to seven days later.

“We chose mostly foreign films and somewhat obscure clips that we thought most undergraduates would not have seen,” Sekeres said. “The clips all contained brief scenes of normal, everyday events that mimicked the kind of events you might experience in a day, such as a family having dinner or kids playing at a park.”

Researchers found that:

  • Not surprisingly, all participants recalled less about both the details and the substance of the films over a longer gap of time. But they forgot the perceptual or ‘peripheral’ details from the films more quickly, and to a greater degree, than the films’ central themes.
  • Significantly, the second group of students, who were given cues before being asked to recall the films, did better at retrieving the faded memory of the peripheral details. However, their retention of central information was not much different from the first group, who did not have such cues.
  • Most noteworthy was that the third group — who retrieved the memory of the films by telling someone about them soon after viewing — remembered both central and peripheral information better over time.

The “replaying” method takes considerable effort, but it can be worth it, Sekeres said.

“We tell students to test yourself, force yourself to tell someone about the lecture. Even by writing out some questions for yourself about the information, then later answering them yourself, you are more likely to remember the information. Unfortunately, simply re-reading or passively listening to a recording of your lecture in the hopes of remembering the information isn’t a great study strategy by comparison.”

Sekeres noted that forgetting some details is to be expected — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“The brain is adaptive,” Sekeres said. “We remember the important things, for the most part, and we forget the unimportant details. You don’t want your brain to search through tons of useless information.”

But in certain situations — such as giving eyewitness testimony or taking a test — details and context can be vital for more accurate memory, she said. And on a personal level, details make for a richer store of such memories as treasured family times.

While researchers focused on how cuing and active retrieval of memories affected students, those actions also could be helpful to others in reactivating memories, Sekeres said.

“If there’s something you really want to remember, test yourself — like saying names and recalling, for example, that Jim had the green cap and Susan wore the red dress and brought a casserole,” she said.

Sekeres said further research would be valuable to determine how the effects of cuing and active retrieval hold up over a period of months or years.

Her research team currently is using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look into how brain activity changes over time as memories age and lose those peripheral details.

“Identifying changes in patterns of brain activity that accompany normal forgetting in the healthy brain will help us to understand differences between normal and abnormal memory processing,” Sekeres said. “As researchers, we have to first understand how something normally works before we can try to fix it.”

Abstract of the study:

Episodic memories undergo qualitative changes with time, but little is known about how different aspects of memory are affected. Different types of information in a memory, such as perceptual detail, and central themes, may be lost at different rates. In patients with medial temporal lobe damage, memory for perceptual details is severely impaired, while memory for central details is relatively spared. Given the sensitivity of memory to loss of details, the present study sought to investigate factors that mediate the forgetting of different types of information from naturalistic episodic memories in young healthy adults. The study investigated (1) time-dependent loss of “central” and “peripheral” details from episodic memories, (2) the effectiveness of cuing with reminders to reinstate memory details, and (3) the role of retrieval in preventing forgetting. Over the course of 7 d, memory for naturalistic events (film clips) underwent a time-dependent loss of peripheral details, while memory for central details (the core or gist of events) showed significantly less loss. Giving brief reminders of the clips just before retrieval reinstated memory for peripheral details, suggesting that loss of details is not always permanent, and may reflect both a storage and retrieval deficit. Furthermore, retrieving a memory shortly after it was encoded prevented loss of both central and peripheral details, thereby promoting retention over time. We consider the implications of these results for behavioral and neurobiological models of retention and forgetting.

2 Comments

Filed under Education, Research

Young children’s experiences and skills in kindergarten may shape their engagement in society later in life

This study shows that cognitive skills and experiences like classroom-based play in kindergarten are good predictors to participation in extracurricular activities in 8th grade among children growing up in poverty. But still a bit of a warning: this study is pretty close to a causal relation, but despite the interesting longitudinal approach it’s still not 100% imho. The causal explanation is as follows – from the conclusion:

The amount of time kindergarten children spend in self-directed classroom activities predicts the number of hours in school sponsored extracurricular activities in 8th grade. Additionally, when controlling for EF and demographics, participation in school clubs in 8th grade was predicted by the interaction of the frequency of use of materials such as art, music and dramatic play and number of interest areas in kindergarten.

You can wonder how much of this time spend on arts in kindergarten isn’t influenced by e.g. the parents opting for this kind of school, but still it’s very interesting (and any plea for arts is ok in my book).

From the press release:

The findings, published in Applied Developmental Science, look at extracurricular activities as precursors to civic engagement, the building blocks for a healthy democracy.

“This study provides first-time empirical evidence that young children’s experiences and skills in kindergarten may shape their engagement in society later in life,” said study author Jennifer Astuto, research assistant professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt and director of playLabNYU, which studies the role of play in children’s lives.

“The developmental skill, executive function, and engagement in classroom-based play are not only important for being ‘school-ready,’ but also may be unique pathways to becoming ‘civic ready’ for children growing up in the context of poverty in America.”

In civic engagement research there has been a focus on examining the gap in civic engagement among low-income communities and their higher-income counterparts. However, little research has focused on how civic engagement develops early in life, as opposed to in adolescence or adulthood, despite the fact that young children indeed are active citizens in school, home, and peer groups.

What has been studied widely in young children is executive function, which represents the intersection of cognitive and social-emotional competencies. Three core executive functions – inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility – are viewed as fundamental developmental skills for later civic engagement.

“We view executive functions as the foundation for productive engagement in society. For example, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility may allow young children to be active listeners to the social needs of others,” Astuto said.

Classroom-based play provides an opportunity for children to develop executive functions, including controlling emotions, resisting impulses, and exerting self-control. Through play, children learn to become a member of a social group and follow rules, foreshadowing the skills and behaviors of a civically engaged adolescent or adult.

“When young children are engaged in play they have the opportunity to create and develop ideas – as well as a sense of community – with other children. Sharing and encouraging each other’s curiosity and imagination through play can build a sense of appreciation for the value of working together toward a common goal, even when differences exist,” Astuto said.

To examine the developmental origins of civic engagement in children growing up in poverty, the researchers used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K), developed by the U.S. Department of Education. A nationally representative sample of 22,782 children enrolled in kindergarten during the 1998-1999 school year participated in ECLS-K; these students were followed from kindergarten through 8th grade. This study focused on 7,675 students who were defined as living in poverty in kindergarten.

Using statistical models, the researchers looked at two factors in kindergarten – children’s executive function and exposure to play in the classroom – and how they contributed to the students’ participation in different extracurricular activities in 8th grade. Other civic engagement research suggests that when youth participate in school-sponsored activities, they are more likely to take part in civic behaviors later in life such as volunteering, voting, or reaching out to public officials.

The researchers found that greater executive function predicted participation in drama and music clubs, sports, and the overall number of hours spent in extracurricular activities. Engagement in classroom-based play was also a significant predictor of participation in clubs and activities in middle school after controlling for executive function. For example, how frequently children used play-based materials in kindergarten such as art supplies, theatre props, and musical instruments predicted whether they played sports during 8th grade.

The results speak to the unique role of play in early childhood classrooms today, particularly within low-income communities.

“Young children’s first social blueprint is the early childhood classroom setting, which is ripe for the development of skills and exposure to experiences which build the foundation for future engagement,” Astuto said. “Because of the structural disparities that lead to differences of civic engagement between the economically advantaged and those growing up in poverty, it is critical that we identify, support, and cultivate skills and experiences for children and youth which addresses this inequality.”

Abstract of the study:

In the United States a “civic engagement gap” persists between low-income youth and their higher-income counterparts. To examine the developmental origins of civic engagement in a sample of U.S. children growing up in poverty, a conceptual model was tested employing the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K) national data set. Using generalized linear models, we examined the contributions of kindergarten children’s executive function and exposure to classroom based play to participation in different extracurricular activities in 8th grade. Results suggest that executive function is a significant predictor of participation in drama and music clubs, sports and number of hours spent in extracurricular activities. Play was also a significant predictor of participation in school clubs, while controlling for executive function. These findings provide initial evidence of a developmental trajectory toward civic engagement beginning in early childhood.

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Psychology, Research

Small study shows how parents’ concerns about neighborhood restrict kids’ outdoor play

The press release is a bit too much boosting that it is the first study – this isn’t true, check e.g. here – but this small study does add  elements to discussion on how parents’ fear has an important influence on how much kids can play outdoor.

From the press release:

A study conducted by LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health is the first to demonstrate that parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children’s outdoor play. The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The LSU Health New Orleans team designed the study to identify factors that may reduce physical activity among adolescents.

“Physical inactivity is a major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic, and a large portion of the adolescent population in the US doesn’t meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity,” notes senior author Melinda Sothern, PhD, CEP, Research Professor at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. “We were interested in exploring some of the possible reasons.”

The research team measured parents/guardians’ and adolescent participants’ responses to a questionnaire, and they evaluated neighborhood characteristics. Adolescents who are free to play outdoors and travel actively without adult supervision accumulate more physical activity than those who are not; therefore understanding whether parental perceptions of their neighborhood impact physical activity-related parenting behaviors may be crucial to improving overall activity among adolescents.

“Parents who do not trust their neighbors or feel they have no control over neighborhood problems were more likely to restrict their child’s outdoor play,” says lead author Maura Kepper, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health.

In this small study, though, the self-reported responses did not seem to indicate that the parents’ concerns altered their children’s physical activity levels. The role of the physical environment was not clear, yet this exploratory study illustrates the need for further research in larger, more diverse samples of children and adolescents.

“Furthermore, we found that the neighborhood physical environment, such as the presence of graffiti and blighted property in the neighborhood, worsened the problem,” says Kepper, who now also has an appointment at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Therefore, a child’s ability to achieve the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity may be limited. This research is an important first step to identifying targets for community-based programs that seek to facilitate trust and control among neighbors that is needed to increase outdoor play among children and adolescents, especially within poor physical environments.”

Abstract of the study:

Background: The current study examined relationships between the neighborhood social environment (parental perceived collective efficacy (PCE)), constrained behaviors (e.g., avoidance or defensive behaviors) and adolescent offspring neighborhood physical activity in low- versus high-incivility neighborhoods. Methods: Adolescents (n = 71; 11–18 years (14.2, SD ± 1.6); male = 37 (52%); non-white = 24 (33.8%); low-income = 20 (29%); overweight/obese = 40 (56%)) and their parents/guardians enrolled in the Molecular and Social Determinants of Obesity in Developing Youth study were included in the current study. Questionnaires measured parents’/guardians’ PCE, constrained outdoor play practices and offspring neighborhood physical activity. Systematic social observation performed at the parcel-level using Google Street View assessed neighborhood incivilities. t-tests and chi-square tests determined differences by incivilities. Multilevel regression models examined relationships between PCE and: (1) constrained behaviors; and (2) neighborhood physical activity. The Hayes (2013) macro determined the mediating role of constrained behaviors. Results: Parents who had higher PCE reported lower levels of avoidance (p = 0.04) and defensive (p = 0.05) behaviors. However, demographic variables (i.e., gender, race and annual household income) limited these results. The direct relationship between PCE and parent-reported neighborhood physical activity was statistically significant in high-incivility neighborhoods only. Neither avoidance nor defensive behavior mediated the relationship between PCE and neighborhood physical activity. Conclusions: PCE influences parenting behaviors related to youth physical activity. Community-based programs that seek to facilitate social cohesion and control may be needed to increase adolescents’ physical activity.

1 Comment

Filed under At home, Research

Funny on Sunday: What Exam Invigilators Get Up To…

This week I had to be an exam invigilator myself a couple of times. Didn’t do this, to be honest:

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Funny

Interesting read: A Mindset “Revolution” Sweeping Britain’s Classrooms May Be Based On Shaky Science

Growth and fixed mindset are all the rage, but this article by Tom Chivers shows something else: the research behind it contains worrying errors.

An excerpt from the article:

But the striking effects in Dweck’s findings have surprised psychologists. Timothy Bates, a professor of psychology at the University of Edinburgh, told BuzzFeed News that the “big effects, monstrous effects” that Dweck has found in the 1998 study and others are “strange – it’s an odd one to me”.

Bates told BuzzFeed News that he has been trying to replicate Dweck’s findings in that key mindset study for several years. “We’re running a third study in China now,” he said. “With 200 12-year-olds. And the results are just null.

“People with a growth mindset don’t cope any better with failure. If we give them the mindset intervention, it doesn’t make them behave better. Kids with the growth mindset aren’t getting better grades, either before or after our intervention study

Dweck told BuzzFeed News that attempts to replicate can fail because the scientists haven’t created the right conditions. “Not anyone can do a replication,” she said. “We put so much thought into creating an environment; we spend hours and days on each question, on creating a context in which the phenomenon could plausibly emerge.

“Replication is very important, but they have to be genuine replications and thoughtful replications done by skilled people. Very few studies will replicate done by an amateur in a willy-nilly way.”

Nick Brown, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, is sceptical of this: “The question I have is: If your effect is so fragile that it can only be reproduced [under strictly controlled conditions], then why do you think it can be reproduced by schoolteachers?”

And Nick Brown did much more, you can read it here.

4 Comments

Filed under Education, Myths, Research, Review

Lillienfeld on microaggression, still a long way to go for research.

When a researcher who has had a big influence on my personal work – Lilienfeld because of this book – writes something about a theme that has been a worry for me lately – microaggressions, programs against microagrrassion, but also safe zones and the thin line between censorship and free speech- , it would be a mistake not to share this – open access – article on this blog.

If you wonder what’s it all about:

Microaggressions are typically defined as subtle snubs, slights, and insults directed toward minorities, as well as to women and other historically stigmatized groups, that implicitly communicate or at least engender hostility.

The article in itself is not against the idea of microaggression as such, but it does warn that the present scientific evidence is weak.

This quote from the conclusion describes the position of Lilienfeld quite nicely:

I encourage microaggression researchers to continue their scholarly inquiries while substantially tempering their assertions, especially those concerning (a) the causal association between microaggressions and adverse mental health and (b) the presumed effectiveness of microaggression intervention efforts. The MRP has generated a plethora of theoretically and socially significant questions that merit thoughtful examination in coming decades. But it is not close to being ready for widespread real-world application.

This the abstract of the paper:

The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology. Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term “microaggression,” and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Myths, Research, Review

Best evidence: Does background influence students’ subject choice?

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time it was this study that caught my attention:

A Centre for Longitudinal Studies working paperfrom the UK examined the roles of social class, parental education, income, gender, and ethnicity on students’ subject choice at GCSE. GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education) are high-stakes exams taken in a range of subjects by secondary students in England. Students choose their GCSE subjects in Year 9 (Grade 8) and normally take their exams in Year 11 (Grade 10). 

Morag Henderson and colleagues examined information from more than 11,700 young people taking part in Next Steps (formerly the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England), who were born in 1989-90 and attended state schools in England. They found that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were less likely than their peers from higher socioeconomic backgrounds to choose GCSE subjects that would enable them to go on to college – regardless of whether or not they were academically able.

Students whose parents only had GCSE-level education were also less likely than those with more-educated parents to study three or more “facilitating” subjects from the Russell Group’s Informed Choices guide. They were also less likely to take three or more academically “selective”‘ subjects, such as German and math and statistics, and more likely to choose applied GCSEs, such as leisure and tourism or applied manufacturing and engineering. As the highest level of parental education decreases, the odds of the students studying applied GCSEs increases.

For students from lower-income backgrounds, the findings were similar. Poorer students were less likely to choose selective and facilitating subjects and more likely to take applied GCSEs than their wealthier peers. Additionally, girls were more likely than boys to study applied GCSEs, as were those with special education needs.

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Research

Will the educational sciences ever grow up?

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

The book “Urban Myths about Learning and Educationby Pedro de Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner, and Casper Hulshof ends with a section on why myths in education are so pervasive and stubborn. One of the most remarkable examples was drawn from Farhad Manjoo’s book True enough: Learning to live in a post-fact society. It’s what he calls the Photoshop explanation. Self-declared experts can publish anything they want thanks to the Internet. They even have access to “recognised” platforms to share their “expertise” (for example, recently two ladies from a foodie business called “The Green Happiness” claimed on Dutch television that a chicken’s egg is basically a chicken’s menstrual period and therefore it was not healthy to eat eggs. Or take the “Food Babe” who ‘discovered’ carcinogens in your toothpaste and just about everywhere else. These are only…

View original post 905 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Education

The academic benefits of… feeling bad?

We have known for quite a while now that feeling good and learning aren’t synonyms, but the opposite should really come as a surprise. Still a Concordia study reveals that occasional negative moods can positively impact student success.

From the press release:

For some, the start of December marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. But for most university students, the coming weeks mean final exams, mounting stress and negative moods.

While that doesn’t seem like an ideal combination for great grades, new research from Concordia University in Montreal shows that the occasional bout of bad feelings can actually improve students’ academic success.

A study published in Developmental Psychology by Erin Barker, professor of psychology in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, shows that students who were mostly happy during their four years of university but who also experienced occasional negative moods had the highest GPAs at the time of graduation.

In contrast, the study also confirmed that students who experienced high levels of negative moods and low levels of positive moods often ended up with the lowest GPAs — a pattern consistent with depressive disorders.

“Students often report feeling overwhelmed and experiencing high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms,” says Barker, who is also a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development.

“This study shows that we need to teach them strategies to both manage negative emotions and stress in productive ways, and to maintain positive emotional experiences.”

For the study, Barker and her co-authors* worked with 187 first-year students at a large university. The researchers tracked the students throughout their four years of schooling by having them complete questionnaires about recent emotional experiences each year, beginning in the first year and continuing throughout their undergraduate degree.

Negative emotions signal a challenge

“We looked at students’ response patterns to better understand how experiences of positive and negative emotions occurred over time. We then combined average patterns to look how each person varied from their own average and examined different combinations of trait and state affects together,” Barker explains.

“This allowed us to identify the pattern associated with the greatest academic success: those who were happy for the most part, but who also showed bouts of elevated negative moods.”

These findings demonstrate that both negative and positive emotions play a role in our successes.

“We often think that feeling bad is bad for us. But if you’re generally a happy person, negative emotions can be motivating. They can signal to you that there is a challenge that you need to face. Happy people usually have coping resources and support that they draw on to meet that challenge.”

In January, Barker and psychology graduate students Sarah Newcomb-Anjo and Kate Mulvihill will expand on this research by launching a new study focused on life beyond graduation. Their plan: examine patterns of emotional experience and well-being as former students navigate new challenges associated with finding work or entering a post-graduation program.

Abstract of the study:

We examined how positive and negative affect covary within individuals over time and how patterns of association between affective traits and states relate to academic success across four years of university. Participants were 187 full-time first-year students at a large Canadian university who completed questionnaires about recent affective experiences in six waves across 4 years. Grade point average for each year of study was provided by the Registrar’s office. Our analysis identified an adaptive pattern characterized by the maintenance of high positive affect (“chronic happiness”) and the co-occurrence of time-limited bouts of negative affect. Our results are consistent with findings showing productive consequences of experiencing positive and negative affect in tandem and the development of emotion regulation capacity across the transition to adulthood.

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Research

Differences in being distracted: who gets most distracted by cell phones?

What’s more annoying than cell phones during a concert? People filming can be a burden, but nothing worse than a ringtone during a silent piece of music. Researchers now have verified that the mere presence of a cell phone or smartphone can adversely affect our cognitive performance, particularly among infrequent internet users and again it has input for mobile devices in education…

From the press release:

As a part of their research, Associate Professor Jun-ichiro Kawahara of Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Letters and Motohiro Ito of Chukyo University (a special research student at Hokkaido University’ Graduate School of Letters) measured the effect of mobile phones on the ability to pay attention of 40 undergraduate students.

The participants were split into two groups: a “mobile-phone conditions” group and a “control conditions” group. For the former, the researchers placed a mobile phone (that did not belong to the participant being tested) next to a computer monitor, asked the participant to search for a target character amongst other characters that appeared on the monitor screen, and then measured the time it took to search for the target character. For the latter group, a memo pad of the same size as the phone was placed by the monitor, and the same experiment was conducted. Thereafter, participants were asked about how frequently they use and how attached they are to the internet.

According to the experiment’s results, “mobile-phone conditions” participants took longer to find the target character than the control group, indicating that participants were automatically distracted by the presence of the phone, impairing cognitive performance. This effect was more pronounced in people who infrequently use the internet. On the other hand, it was found that heavy users were not distracted by the phone and rather more efficient to notice the target when it appeared on the side of the monitor where the mobile phone was placed. These results suggest that the influence of a mobile phone on the examinee’s cognitive performance differed depending on the degree of their internet usage.

The researchers hypothesize that people are automatically drawn to the presence of a mobile phone, and there are individual differences in how one attempts to ignore it. In conclusion, Kawahara notes “The mere presence of a mobile phone was a distraction among infrequent internet users. However, among frequent internet users, the device might have served as a spatial cue from which their visual system starts searching the target.”

Abstract of the study:

Recent studies suggest that the “mere presence” of a mobile phone impairs social interactions and neuropsychological test performance. The present study examined whether the presence of a mobile phone causes spatial bias toward the device during a visual search task. Participants identified a target among spatially distributed non-targets. We manipulated three factors: device presence (mobile phone or notepad), target congruency (congruent or incongruent), and attentional load (set size 8 or 24). A mobile phone (or a notepad in the control condition) was placed on the left side of the computer screen. Participants also completed a questionnaire to measure Internet usage and attachment. Participants with high scores on the questionnaire rapidly identified the target at the congruent (same side as the phone) location, but the mere presence effect did not occur in this condition. In contrast, participants with low scores on the questionnaire demonstrated the mere presence effect, but no spatial bias was observed. These results suggest that the mere presence effect can be modulated by individual differences in the degree to which a device is appealing.

2 Comments

Filed under Education, Research, Technology