Encoding Strategies and Trait Conscientiousness

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    • 00:13

      PETER DELANEY: We all know that when you study list after list,you build up proactive interference,and memory gets worse and worse and worse.Except that there are some exceptions to this.For example, when we receive an instruction to tryto forget things we've studied before,sometimes we actually see memory go up on subsequent items.And when were tested after each list,

    • 00:33

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: it seems like memory also seems to stay flat, or sometimeseven go up.And we've argued that some of thisoccurs because people evaluate their performanceand they change the encoding strategythat they use to study.It doesn't explain everything in some of these specs,but it's pretty good, at least in direct forgetting.So I'll start with directed forgetting.

    • 00:55

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: Direct forgetting was introduced by Bob Bjorkand his colleagues.And the idea is that you might come across something,like this snake out in the woods,that you don't want to remember.And so you try to put it out of your mind.And that has been captured in the laboratory usinglist method directed forgetting, where people studya list of items, and then they're

    • 01:15

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: either told to forget it, or to keep remembering it.Then they get some more items.And then they receive a test.And the typical effects that you get, there are two.First, you have something we call the costs, whichis lower memory in the forget group on the thingsyou're told to forget compared to the remember.And you also have benefits.So people do better on the items after a forget cue.

    • 01:37

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: And that has been argued to suggesta role of direct forgetting in updating.So if you're getting rid of old knowledge that's not necessary,you might do better on subsequent things.And perhaps that happens because you're reducingproactive interference.So Lili Sahakyan and I argued that a good mechanism

    • 01:58

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: to explain how people manage to getaround proactive interference is that they actuallyaren't escaping proactive interference at all.But what they're doing is changingwhat they're doing, adding coding,developing a new strategy.And the forget cue interrupts your ongoing study,your ongoing rehearsal.And so it gives you a chance to reflect and go,maybe I could do better.And then to try something else.

    • 02:20

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: And we have some kinds of evidencefor that that we've reported in a series of papers.We've showed that with verbal reports,that people actually tell us that they'reusing a better strategy.And that the benefits seem to be tied to those reports.So people that switch strategies show improvement.People that don't switch strategies don't.And when you do things to eliminate

    • 02:42

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: people's voluntary study strategies,like these incidental learning, the benefitstypically disappear.So our question was really, well,why doesn't everybody show the benefits?Shouldn't it be universal?And so we turn to personality as maybe a wayof trying to address this.And we were inspired by a study by Steve Dewhurst

    • 03:03

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: and his colleagues who also teamed upwith a sports psychologist, a guy named Peter Clough, who'sbeen studying a personality trait that he callsmental toughness, which is used, I guess,to predict whether you're going to choke under pressurein sports, mainly.And Dewhurst found that there was some relationshipbetween people's scores on mental toughness

    • 03:24

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: and performance in list method directed forgetting.In particular, they didn't have a control group.They just had everybody in the forget group.People studied a list of words.They were told to forget them, and they studied more words.They had a math filler, and then they had a surprise free recalltest on both lists.And they used this test, the mental toughness questionnaire,to predict list two minus list one, which they took

    • 03:48

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: as their measure of forgetting.But what was, I thought, really interesting here was--and so they thought, well, it lookslike we're seeing more forgetting for peoplethat are more mentally tough.So maybe they have better inhibitory control.Except if you look at the correlationswith the individual list performance,they also found that mental toughness wasn't predicting

    • 04:08

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: list one, it was predicting performanceon list two, the benefits, I guess.So it seemed like maybe the action is all happening there.So we had a couple of questions.First we thought, well, maybe mental toughness--you don't have the control groups.So maybe mental toughness is justpredicting whether people quit.So maybe they would show-- even if you

    • 04:28

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: didn't tell them to forget, they would still-- peoplewho are not mentally tough would just slack off on list two.It might also predict reflective strategy change.So if it predicts specifically in the forget groupbut not in the remember group, then thatwould suggest some tie between personality and strategychange.And finally, we wondered whether we

    • 04:49

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: could look at this in terms of personality traitsthat we know more about, in particular, the big five.We also had the BIS/BAS which Rosemary Nelson-Gray loves.I won't talk about that.If you want to know about it, it's in the paper.So we recruited a lot of undergraduates.We used a shorter form of the mental toughness questionnaire,there MT18.

    • 05:09

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: We basically did exactly what Steve Dewhurst did.We gave people a list of 20 words.We told them to either forget it, or add it into the controlgroup so they do remember it.Then they got 20 more words, a math filler.And then we tested them on each list separately as opposedto testing them together.And we counterbalanced the order of the test, list oneor list two first.We also gave them the big five inventory,

    • 05:31

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: which contains-- if you don't know this inventory-- fivemajor personality traits that they believeto be mostly independent and relatively stable over time,and capable of capturing variance in mostother personality traits.So did we get directed forgetting?We did.Yay.Got the costs and the benefits here.

    • 05:53

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: Did we replicate Steve Dewhurst's patternwith mental toughness?Happily, we did, actually.And it shows up in the forget group, the blue line.But it's not in the remember group.So it's not just that people do better on list two overall,if they're mentally tough.It's really specific to the forget group.It also is correlated with a bunch of the big five.

    • 06:15

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: And mostly, it's neuroticism.But it's also got elements of agreeableness and extroversion.And I've red flagged here conscientiousness,because that's the one I'm going to talk about more,because it seems to be doing the work in directed forgetting.We didn't get a correlation with openness,but this correlation matrix looks an awful lot like the onethat [INAUDIBLE] and colleagues found for the long form

    • 06:38

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: of the scale, except that they get openness and we don't.So looking at the forget condition correlationswith the big five, basically nothingpredicts list one performance.So you're forgetting isn't getting better.But list two is predicted by conscientiousness,and so is that list two minus list one difference.

    • 06:60

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: Nothing else here is significant.And also, if you do regression, if you regress outthe effect of conscientiousness on list two,then there is no more effect of mental toughness.But if you go the other way, there'sstill in effect of conscientiousness.So it's better than mental toughness here.And nothing happens in the remember condition.

    • 07:20

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: So conscientious just doesn't predict it here.So it seems to, again, be specific to the benefitsof directed forgetting.And since we think that's due to strategy change,we were like, OK, this is good.So we found a trait that has a small but reliablepredictive power for who switches.So then we thought, well that's trying

    • 07:44

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: to apply that to another paradigmwhere we think strategy switching happens.So here's a very famous paper that most of you probably know.A paper by Carl Szpunar, and McDermott and Roediger on testenhanced learning.And they gave people a series of five lists to learn.And on lists one through four, some of the people

    • 08:04

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: received a free recall test.And the rest of the people eitherrestudied those lists, or did nothing, basically.And what you find is that on that list five,you see very good performance on list fiveif you've been tested on all the previous lists,relative to those other conditions.

    • 08:25

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: And it also reduces intrusions.And so Szpunar and colleagues attribute this testenhanced learning effect to escapefrom proactive interference, which ought to sound familiarbecause that's the same mechanism that initiallywas thought to explain the benefits in directedforgetting.But we had some reasons why we thought maybe

    • 08:47

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: it was, at least in part, strategy change.One is a paper by Sahakyan, Delaney, and ColleenKelley that found in a directed forgetting like paradigmthat, if we tested people after list one,even in the remember group, they showed,apparently, the benefits.That list two looks just like list two after a forget cue

    • 09:09

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: if you received a test, suggesting that maybe it wasa strategy change effect there.And another paper by my former student,Martin Knowles, and I, where we gave people four lists to studyand gave them free recall tests after each.And in that study, we found that-- we asked peopleto give retrospective verbal reports about the encoding

    • 09:30

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: strategies they used, and we coded those.And what we found is on list one,most people are using relatively shallow encoding strategies,like rote rehearsal.But my list four, a significant percentage of peoplehave switched to something better,like making up a story using all the words on the list.So not everybody switches, just like before,

    • 09:52

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: but some people do.And we also found that those who switchedshowed a lot better memory.So what Juan Ventura, Yoojin Chang, Wyatt Smith and I didwas to try to basically replicate this Szpunar effect,but to look at encoding strategies

    • 10:13

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: and conscientiousness.So we only used three lists instead of five,and we did this in two large classes of intro psych at UNCG.And we presented people with a list of words.And then they either had a little bookletthat either gave them free recall test,or made them do a filler task of drawing answers to mazes.

    • 10:36

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: And then they get more lists.Everybody is tested on the third lest.We then asked them to just give with a simple question: whatwas your strategy to memorize the word lists?And the category choices are shown here.We called repeating the words shallow.We called creating a story deep.

    • 10:56

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: We called a song, poem, or rap intermediate,because it seems like a weird category to me.And then for the other, we did our bestto encode it into one of these categories.And then we give people the cumulative recalltest as well, on all the lists.And then we gave them just the conscientiousness partof the BFI, along with two questions that

    • 11:18

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: were designed to find out if they were justanswering randomly, including are you a college student.So did we get test enhanced learning?We do.It's a nice large effect.People on list three are doing a lot betterafter being tested on previous lists in the no tests.And you see the same pattern.If you look at the cumulative recall.

    • 11:40

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: What about the strategy effects?Well, it didn't show the percentages there, did it?Well, it worked at home.But you can still look at the pie chart.What you basically are seeing is a patternthat's very similar to what we saw in Knowles and Delaneywith the tests, where, by this third list, although we had

    • 12:03

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: fewer people that had switched to deep compared toat University of Florida, we still see that same pattern.And it's more people than in the no tests condition.It's about 13% of people abandon shallow, and thenjump and become deep.But it doesn't explain TEL.Sorry.So test enhanced learning remains even

    • 12:25

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: after we regress out strategy.So in fact, you see pretty much parallel two main effectsthat are about of equal size.That strategy accounts for as much as a testenhanced learning in doing well on list three.But because there's more people using deep encodingon list three, it does contribute to the effect.

    • 12:48

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: So the test enhanced a learning effect is largerbecause people are using deep encodingmore often after several tests than theyare without several tests.So it picks up a lot, but it's not the whole story.And also, conscientiousness, not good here.

    • 13:09

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: Although this pattern is what we predicted.So the line that's orange that's supposed to be blue, it doeshave a positive slope.And that's the condition where we expected strategy changes.But it only accounts for 2% of the variance.It's not significant.And there's nothing in the no test conditionwith conscientiousness.And if you look at the actual strategies that people report,

    • 13:32

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: you see a similar basically null effect.You find that conscientiousness isin the right direction for being higherfor people that use deep encoding,but it's not reliable.So what do we got here?Well, does consciousness predict memory?Usually, no.

    • 13:53

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: But we have one case where it does.And that seems to be directed forgetting.We do have really big effects of reflective strategychange on memory.And those effects are differential after testsand after a forget cue.They don't occur when people are justgoing along not being tested and not being interrupted.

    • 14:18

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: We don't have any good evidence, though, from these studies,that conscientiousness is predictingreflection and strategy change.All we have is that it's doing something in the forget group.So I think we have a lot of work left to do,but this is a nice first step in tryingto link personality kinds of measures to memory, at least.

    • 14:39

      PETER DELANEY [continued]: And in particular, to trying to find out a little bit about whyit is that some people seem to switch, and some people don't.So that's what I got.Thank you.

Encoding Strategies and Trait Conscientiousness

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Unique ID: bd-psych-conf-esatc-AA04042


Dr. Peter F. Delaney presents his research into how personality traits affect memory. He refers to past research that suggested that personal evaluation and changes in memory encoding strategies had a lot to do with memory performance. In this project, he examined which personality traits would make someone more likely to engage in this evaluation and change.

SAGE Video Forum
Encoding Strategies and Trait Conscientiousness

Dr. Peter F. Delaney presents his research into how personality traits affect memory. He refers to past research that suggested that personal evaluation and changes in memory encoding strategies had a lot to do with memory performance. In this project, he examined which personality traits would make someone more likely to engage in this evaluation and change.

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