Making Judgments of Learning Either Enhances or Impairs Memory: Evidence From 17 Experiments With Related and Unrelated Word Pairs

Monika Undorf, Franziska Schäfer, Vered Halamish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Published studies found that predicting one’s future memory during learning (judgments of learning, JOLs) consistently improved cued-recall performance for related word pairs. In contrast, making JOLs had inconsistent effects on memory for unrelated pairs, with most studies finding null effects and some finding detrimental effects. This study reports data from 17 experiments in which participants either made or did not make JOLs for related and unrelated word pairs in their everyday language. Making JOLs increased the difference in memory performance between related and unrelated pairs in every experiment. Although almost all experiments showed numerically positive JOL reactivity for related pairs and numerically negative JOL reactivity for unrelated pairs, either effect was reliable in just half of the experiments. Small-scale meta-analyses revealed small-to-moderate positive reactivity for related pairs and small-to-moderate negative reactivity for unrelated pairs. Language of word pairs (German, Hebrew, or English) moderated positive reactivity and experimental setting (controlled or unsupervised online) moderated negative reactivity, but none of the other moderators we examined—presence of an additional pair type, study time, total number of pairs—impacted reactivity. Experiments that showed positive reactivity for related pairs tended not to show negative reactivity for unrelated pairs, and vice versa. Overall, these findings indicate that negative JOL reactivity for unrelated pairs is similarly large and robust as positive reactivity for related pairs. They favor the cue-strengthening hypothesis with dual-task costs over other accounts and raise the practically relevant possibility that monitoring could have detrimental effects on learning in educational settings. All data are freely available online.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117108
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 University of California Press. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • judgments of learning
  • metamemory
  • reactivity

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