Theses Doctoral

From Choosing to Responsibility - The Impact of the Sense of Control on Memory

Chatman, Ljubica

The perceived exercise of volitional control results in better recall, beyond the effects of preference and attention to the task. Greater perceived control resulted in increased memory both in explicit learning (Studies one, two, and three) and implicit learning (four and five). In Studies one through three we used word list materials and allowed participants either an illusion of choice, forced choice or no choice during learning. Study 1 showed that perceived choice resulted in greater memory compared to forced choice. Study 2 showed that compared to no choice baseline, forced choice resulted in decreased cued recall performance, while the choice condition was marginally greater. In Study 3 we replicated this effect, and with better statistical power found that choice produced significantly greater recall than control, and forced choice produced significantly diminished recall. Studies four and five employed a novel implicit memory paradigm, leading participants to believe that their actions had caused an outcome either before the action, after the action occurred, after the ostensible outcome, or no causality (Study 4), caused by either oneself or another student (Study 5). Memory for the "outcome" was greater when the perception of causality was induced before the outcome compared to both after outcome and no causality for both self and other as causal agents. Moreover, greater perceived causal involvement of either self or other increased the emotional response to the negative outcome. Our results are best understood in terms of increased motivational relevance, leading to greater accessibility and salience of events caused by an intentional agent.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Sparrow, Betsy J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 8, 2014