Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1979

Abstract

We propose that the concept of cognitive effort in memory is both useful and important. Cognitive effort is defined as the engaged proportion of limited-capacity central processing. It·was hypothesized that this variable might have important memorial consequences and might also be a potential confounding factor in levels-of-processing paradigms. The first experiment tested this possibility using two types of incidental-learning tasks factorially combined with two degrees of effort. It was found that high effort led to better recall than low effort, but that level-of-processing effects were nonsignificant. A second experiment clearly demonstrated the feasibility of using performance on a secondary task as an independent criterion for measuring effort, and two further experiments ruled out alternative accounts of effort effects. A reliable levels-of-processing effect was obtained in the fourth experiment in which the incidental-learning tasks were blocked. Implications and possible future applications of the cognitive effort concept are discussed.

Publication Information

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory

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Psychology Commons

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