Effects of Task Relevance Instructions and Topic Beliefs on Reading Processes and Memory

Catherine M. Bohn-Gettler, Matthew T. McCrudden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-431
Number of pages22
JournalDiscourse Processes
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 19 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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