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Several studies have found that self-reference leads to improved memory (e.g., Klein & Loftus, 1986). However, the impact of self-reference on metamemory is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to test whether the use of self-reference influences students’ judgments of learning (JOLs) and what effect this has on their ability to retrieve information and their confidence during retrieval. We also examined whether effects of self-reference on memory and metamemory are moderated by need for cognition.

Participants (184) were recruited from the undergraduate psychology research pool at our university. Each participant answered eighteen questions from the Need for Cognition Scale (NFC) (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984). The control group received instruction on analogical reasoning tasks. The experimental group received instruction on self-referential learning. Participants were then presented with 60 trivia facts to study and made a JOL for each fact. Next, participants were given a cued recall test over the same trivia questions and gave confidence ratings.

There was not a significant difference in the accuracy, confidence, or judgments of learning of people who received self-referential training and those who did not. However, we found a positive correlation between participants training scores in the experimental group and accuracy. This suggests that those who exhibited high levels of understanding of self-reference were more accurate than those who did not. NFC scores were positively correlated with accuracy in the experimental group and therefore acts as a moderator between self-reference and accuracy. NFC scores were positively correlated with confidence ratings in the experimental group and therefore acts as a moderator between self-reference and confidence.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Subject
    • Psychological Science

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3110

  • Event date
    • 23 March 2018

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Troy Smith