Determinants and consequences of offloading working memory processes

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Dokumentart: Dissertation
Date: 2020-09-18
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Psychologie
Advisor: Papenmeier, Frank (Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2020-09-10
DDC Classifikation: 150 - Psychology
Keywords: Gedächtnis , Metakognition
Other Keywords:
Cognitive offloading
human-technology interaction
License: Publishing license excluding print on demand
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In my PhD-project I investigated the externalization of working memory processes into technical tools (i.e. cognitive offloading). Thereby, two main research questions arose – first, how do individuals decide to offload working memory processes and second, what consequences does this offloading behavior have on immediate and subsequent task performance. Regarding the former, I performed two studies investigating metacognitions as determinants of cognitive offloading. To measure offloading behavior, I used and adapted the Pattern Copy Task – a free choice offloading paradigm. While I did not find a relationship between metacognitive beliefs and offloading behavior in Study 1 (N = 80), I used fake performance feedback (below-average vs. above-average vs. no feedback) to experimentally manipulate metacognitive beliefs in Study 2 (N = 159). The participants adopted their metacognitive beliefs according to the feedback, but there were no group effects on offloading behavior. I argue that rather actual working memory performance and related metacognitive experiences act as a predictor for cognitive offloading than metacognitive beliefs. Regarding the consequences of offloading behavior, in Study 3 I observed a trade-off between enhanced immediate task processing but decreased subsequent memory performance due to cognitive offloading within three experiments (each N = 172). Nonetheless, cognitive offloading was not harmful for long-term memory formation under all circumstances. If participants were forced to offload maximally but also had the intention to foster a strong long-term memory detrimental effects of offloading could be counteracted. In a last study (Study 4, N = 133) I tested whether cognitive offloading in one task is beneficial for the performance of a simultaneous secondary task. When participants offloaded more within the Pattern Copy Task due to low temporal costs associated with offloading, they showed a better secondary task performance than when they offloaded less due to high temporal costs. Cognitive offloading might therefore foster secondary task performance; however, this influence is not fully explained yet. My studies provide a systematic investigation of the omnipresent phenomena “cognitive offloading” and serve for a better understanding of humans’ technical tool use.

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