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Responsible Attention: The Effect of Divided Attention on Metacognition and Responsible Remembering

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Responsible attention: The effect of divided attention on metacognition and responsible remembering


Dillon H. Murphy & Alan D. Castel




ABSTRACT

We are frequently exposed to situations where we need to remember important information when our attentional resources are divided; however, it was previously unclear how divided attention impacts responsible remembering: selective memory for important information to avoid consequences for forgetting. In the present study, we examined participants’ memory for valuable information, metacognitive accuracy, and goal-directed cognitive control mechanisms when under full and divided attention. In Experiment 1, participants were presented with words paired with point values counting towards their score if recalled but were required to “bet” on whether they would remember it. Results revealed that selective memory for high-value information was impaired under divided attention. In Experiment 2, we presented participants with unassociated word pairs and solicited metacognitive predictions of recall (i.e., JOLs). Results revealed that the relative accuracy of participants’ metacognitive judgments was enhanced when studying under divided attention. Experiment 3 examined cognitive control mechanisms to selectively remember goal-relevant information at the expense of information that could potentially be offloaded (i.e., responsible forgetting). Results revealed that participants’ ability to strategically prioritize goal-relevant information at the expense of information that could be offloaded was preserved under divided attention. Collectively, responsible attention encompasses how attentional resources impact one’s ability to engage in responsible remembering and we demonstrate that responsible remembering can be impaired, enhanced, and preserved in certain contexts.

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