This study investigated the effects of task relevance instructions and topic beliefs on reading processes and memory for belief-related text. Undergraduates received task instructions (focus on arguments for vs. against) before reading a dual-position text. In Experiment 1 (n = 88), a reading time methodology showed no differences in reading time for task-relevant and task-irrelevant text, but participants recalled task-relevant text better than task-irrelevant text independently of whether the information was consistent with their topic beliefs. In Experiment 2 (n = 76), a think-aloud methodology showed that participants engaged in confirmation strategies when reading belief-consistent text and disconfirmation strategies when reading belief-inconsistent text, independently of whether the information was relevant to their task instructions. Nonetheless, participants recalled task-relevant text better than task-irrelevant text. The results indicate that task relevance instructions affect memory independently of beliefs but that beliefs affect processing independently of task relevance instructions. Thus, moment-by-moment reading processes and memory for text can operate differently as a function of topic beliefs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language