The influence of context on information processing

Abstract

The main research question of this study is how the processing of information relates to different contextual characteristics. More specifically, how the context is associated with efficiency of information processing (success and speed), size of chunks, speed of chunk processing and the recall of a chunk. The research domain was the game of chess. The efficiency of information processing and the chunk characteristics were defined with the reconstruction of sequences of chess moves. Context variables were defined using a slightly adapted chess program. Variables on information dispersion, deviation, complexity and positivity were extracted in each chess position. Overall, the results showed that higher dispersion and complexity and lower positivity of information in a context lead to less efficient information processing. The results support the assumptions of the cognitive load theory about the negative effects of external factors burden on information processing and working memory. Our results also support the ACT-R theory, which suggests that more frequent information has a higher activation level and can therefore be retrieved more easily and quickly. The results are also congruent with the positivity effect, which proposes that it is easier to remember positive information than negative information. The findings of our study can be beneficial for the development of intelligent tutoring systems and the design of human–computer interaction systems.

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Availability of data and materials

The datasets supporting the conclusions of this article are included within the article and its additional files. All additional data are available upon request from the author.

Notes

  1. 1.

    The best rank is marked with the lowest number, i.e., 1.

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Acknowledgements

Contributions to the research should be acknowledged to Dr. Ivan Bratko, head of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of The Faculty of Computer and Information Science of Ljubljana University, the co-mentor of the doctoral dissertation in which the research was performed, or the scientific guidance. We would like to express my gratitude to all the chess players who cooperate in the research. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of our manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Jana Krivec.

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Krivec, J., Guid, M. The influence of context on information processing. Cogn Process 21, 167–184 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10339-020-00958-8

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Keywords

  • Information processing
  • Contextual characteristics
  • Chess game
  • Cognitive load