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Keep it Coherent: A Meta-Analysis of the Seductive Details Effect

Abstract

Studies have shown that learners exposed to interesting and irrelevant information, known as seductive details, do not perform as much as those who learned without seductive details. However, findings are mixed in terms of the degree to which seductive details hinder learning. Further research is also needed on how design features of learning materials influence the seductive details effect. This meta-analysis summarizes the seductive details effect and investigates the moderating factors of design and methodology. We also discuss evidence supporting each of the four hypothetical underlying mechanisms for the seductive details effect. Findings show that including seductive details in learning material can hinder learning. Mean effect sizes were moderated by the presence of seductive details, image type used in comparison, delivery format, language, subject, learner pacing, recall question type, and manipulation check approach. We conclude by highlighting limitations in current research, suggesting opportunities for future research, and examining practical implications.

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Correspondence to NarayanKripa Sundararajan.

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Sundararajan, N., Adesope, O. Keep it Coherent: A Meta-Analysis of the Seductive Details Effect. Educ Psychol Rev 32, 707–734 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-020-09522-4

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Keywords

  • Seductive detail
  • Multimedia learning
  • CTML
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review