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«The present study investigated whether subjects were sensitive to negative transfer and proactive interference (PI) at encoding and retrieval and ...»

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Moreover, interference subjects recalled a greater percentage of non-interference items than interference items whereas controls did not differ between their recall of noninterference and interference items (see Figure 13). As in E2, WM was not a significant predictor of item-level PI (p =.31, ∆R2 =.01) nor was the interaction between WM and interference-group significant (p =.15, ∆R2 =.02).

At delayed recall, interference-group was a significant predictor of item-level PI, (R2 =.20). Interference subjects recalled a greater percentage of non-interference items than interference items while controls recalled both types of items equally well (see Figure 13). Again, WM was not a significant predictor of item-level PI (p =.10, ∆R2 =.02), nor was the interaction between WM and interference-group significant (p =.07, ∆R2 =.03).

List 2 Study Time A 2 (Interference-group: interference, control) x 2 (Word pair type: interference, non-interference) repeated measures ANCOVA with WM as the covariate was conducted on the amount of time subjects spent studying the word pairs in list 2 (see Figure 14 & 15). No significant effects were found. Interference and control subjects spent equal time studying word pairs (see Figure 14), F (1, 103) = 1.28, p =.26. Moreover, interference subjects studied the interference and non-interference items equally, F 1, p =.88. WM also was not a significant covariate, F (1, 103) = 2.51, p =.12 (see Figure 15).

Because interference subjects might have differed in the amount of time they spent studying list 1 versus list 2, a 2 (List: 1, 2) x 2 (Word pair type: interference, noninterference) repeated measures ANCOVA with WM as the covariate was conducted.

Again, there were no significant effects. Interference subjects studied list 1 and list 2 for the same amount of time, F (1, 52) = 1.64, p =.21 (see Figure 16). In the ANCOVA, WM was not a significant covariate, F 1, p =.91 (see Figure 17). However, when WM was correlated with study time separately for control and interference subjects, WM significantly correlated with study time (r =.30) for controls but not for interference subjects (r =.03).

Gamma correlations between study time and recall

A 2 (Word pair type: interference, non-interference) x 2 (Interference-group:

interference, control) repeated measures ANCOVA with WM as a covariate was conducted on the list 2 immediate and delayed recall data. For both analyses, no significant effects were found. Interference and control subjects were equally unable to discriminate via study time between recalled and not recalled items for both interference and non-interference items, F (1, 67) = 1.62, p =.21, and F (1, 61) 1, p =.57, for immediate and delayed recall respectively (see Figure 18). WM was not a significant covariate in either analyses, F 1, p =.90, and F 1, p =.33 for immediate and delayed recall respectively.

DPOK judgments A 2 (Interference-group: interference, control) x 2 (Word pair type: interference, non-interference) x 2 (DPOK prompt: 1, 2) repeated measures ANCOVA with WM as the covariate was conducted on subjects' mean magnitude for their DPOK judgments.

Because WM again interacted with the interference-group, the data was re-analyzed using stepwise regression. For each DPOK prompt, difference scores were calculated by subtracting the mean DPOK judgment for interference items from the mean DPOK judgment for non-interference items; thus, a positive number indicates more PI sensitivity at the item-level. Interference-group, WM, and the interaction between interferencegroup and WM were entered in as predictors, and item-level PI sensitivity as measured by the difference scores for the DPOK prompts was the criterion variable.

For the first DPOK prompt, interference-group was a significant predictor of whether subjects were sensitive to item-level PI, (R2 =.08). Controls gave higher DPOKs than did interference subjects. Moreover, interference subjects gave lower judgments to the interference items than the non-interference items, whereas controls gave equal judgments to both types of items (see Figure 19). WM was not a significant predictor item-level PI sensitivity (p =.74, ∆R2 =.00), but the interaction between WM and interference-group was significant (∆R2 =.04). For the second DPOK prompt, interference-group was not a significant predictor of whether subjects were sensitive to item-level PI, (R2 =.01, p =.34), nor was WM (∆R2 =.00, p =.63), but the interaction between WM and interference-group was again significant (∆R2 =.05).

To follow-up the interaction between WM, interference-group, and Word pair type, three separate 2 (Interference-group: interference, control) x 2 (DPOK prompt: 1, 2) x 2 (Word pair type: interference, non-interference) ANOVAs were conducted on mean DPOK magnitude for each span group (see Figure 20). Low spans gave higher judgments to non-interference items than they did for interference items, F(1, 33) = 4.40, ηp2 =.12, but they did this in both the control and interference groups, F(1, 33) = 1.00, p =.33. In contrast, medium and high spans' DPOKs did differ across Word pair type and interference-group, F(1,34) = 4.81, ηp2 =.12 and F(1,33) = 4.18, ηp2 =.11, respectively.

Medium and high spans in the interference group gave higher judgments to the noninterference items than they did to the interference items, t(19) = -2.65 and t(16) = -2.14, respectively. In contrast, medium and high spans in the control condition gave equivalent judgments to the interference and non-interference items, t(15) 1, p =.60 and t(17) 1, p =.65, respectively.





Gamma correlations between DPOK judgments and delayed recall A 2 (Interference-group: interference, control) x 2 (Word pair type: interference, non-interference) x 2 (DPOK prompt: 1, 2) repeated measures ANCOVA with WM as the covariate was conducted on subjects' gamma correlations for their DPOK judgments.

WM was not a significant covariate in either analysis, F (1, 55) = 1.30, p.05, ηp2 =.023. Subjects were more accurate on the second DPOK prompt than the first DPOK prompt, F (1, 55) = 5.31, ηp2 =.09. Interference subjects' DPOKs were less accurate for the interference items than the non-interference items; controls were equally accurate for both types of items (see Figure 21), F (1, 55) = 7.09, ηp2 =.11.

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The primary goal of E3 was to investigate whether subjects' were sensitive to negative transfer and PI at the item-level if they made implicit judgments (controlled study time) rather than explicit judgments (JOLs) at encoding. The secondary goal was to investigate whether WM actually did not influence monitoring.

Negative transfer. Consistent with the discrepancy-reduction model (e.g., Nelson & Narens, 1990; see Kornell & Metcalfe (2006) for an opposing view) which predicts that subjects study difficult items longer than easier items, I hypothesized that people would spend more time studying interference items than non-interference items, thereby indicating sensitivity to PI. Inconsistent with these predictions, but consistent with the first two experiments, E3 suggested that subjects were not sensitive to negative transfer at the item level: interference subjects studied the interference and non-interference word pairs equally. But, here, control and interference subjects also did not differ in the amount of time spent studying the word pairs, in contrast to E1 and E2. Here, then, subjects seemed unaware of negative transfer at the list level. Furthermore, interference subjects did not spend more time studying list 2 than list 1, which is also inconsistent with E1 and E2, where subjects gave lower JOLs to list 2 than list 1. E3's inconsistencies have two possible sources: how study time was conceptualized, and learning-to-learn's influence on encoding fluency.

The equal time that subjects spent studying the interference and non-interference word pairs could have been due to the opposing influences of negative transfer and learning-to-learn. Postman's (1972) discussion of transfer effects cites Ward (1937), who had subjects learn 16 lists of nonsense syllables. By the last list, subjects reached the criterion level of learning twice as fast as they did on the first list. In the present experiment, I was not measuring how quickly subjects learned a list to a specific criterion, but if subjects tend to be faster in actual learning, then this acceleration in learning a list could have influenced subjects' perceived ease of learning the second list.

For instance, without negative transfer and given the opportunity to control study time, subjects might spend less time studying subsequent lists in a multi-list learning experiment because they have become accustomed to the experimental procedure. In the presence of negative transfer, the contribution of learning-to-learn would still be present, but it could be opposed by the influence of negative transfer. Thus, if subjects are sensitive to list-level or item-level negative transfer and consequently spend more time studying items than they would have if negative transfer were not present, then these two processes might cancel each other out. Consistent with this idea, interference subjects spent equal time studying list 1 and 2, and they studied the word pairs almost twice as long as subjects did in the first two experiments where presentation rate was fixed. To test whether the above speculation is correct, a follow-up experiment should include a more appropriate control group that studied multiple unrelated lists to minimize negative transfer and equate learning-to-learn effects on encoding fluency.

Proactive Interference. Consistent with E1, but inconsistent with E2, interference subjects gave lower DPOK judgments than controls, suggesting that interference subjects were sensitive to list-level PI. In addition, interference subjects gave lower DPOK judgments to the interference items than the non-interference items, suggesting that they were sensitive to item-level PI. Overall, DPOKs were very accurate in predicting eventual recall; however, interference subjects' judgments were more accurate for interference items than non-interference items. In comparison, controls were equally accurate for both types of items. It appears, then, that interference subjects were still misled to some degree by the familiarity of the interference word pairs. Why did E3 replicate E1 whereas E2 did not? I address this perplexing question in the general discussion.

Regarding WM, high spans recalled more words than medium spans who recalled more words than low spans. However, in the interference condition, high and low spans recalled relatively the same percentage of words while medium spans recalled the smallest percentage of words. The span groups studied the interference and noninterference word pairs for the same amount of time regardless of whether they were in the control or interference condition, suggesting they were not sensitive to negative transfer at the item-level or list-level. Because span groups studied the word pairs for an equal amount of time, the possible opposing influences of learning-to-learn and negative transfer appears to have influenced all subjects equally. Consistent with their recall, medium spans gave lower DPOK judgments than high and low spans in the interference condition. Furthermore, high, medium, and low spans were equally accurate in discriminating whether they were about to recall a word or not. Taken together, the results suggest that subjects, regardless of working memory ability, are sensitive to PI at recall, but what they can do about it is less certain. The atypical recall results (as in E2) suggest that high and medium span subjects were not engaging control processes despite being able to monitor for PI.

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