Skip to main content

Strategic metacognition: Self-paced study time and responsible remembering

A Correction to this article was published on 07 April 2022

This article has been updated

Abstract

Metacognition involves the understanding and awareness of one’s cognitive processes, and responsible remembering is the notion that people strategically focus on and remember important information to prevent negative consequences for forgetting. The present study examined the metacognitive control processes involved in responsible remembering by evaluating how information importance affects one’s allocation of study time and subsequent recall. Specifically, participants were presented with pictures of children along with each child’s food preferences (2 foods they like, 2 foods they dislike, and 2 foods they are allergic to and must avoid) to remember for a later test. When making no metacognitive assessments or judging the likelihood of later remembering each food preference (JOL), participants did not strategically study or demonstrate enhanced recall for the most important information (allergies). However, when making judgments of importance (at either the item or global level), participants spent more time studying and best recalled the information that they rated as most important to remember (allergies). Collectively, these results suggest that when people judge the importance of remembering information, whether at the global or item level, study decisions are better informed, resulting in strategic studying and greater recall for information with the most severe consequences for forgetting.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Change history

References

  • Anselmi, N., Montaldo, S., Pomilla, A., & Maraone, A. (2020). Forgotten baby syndrome: Dimensions of the phenomenon and new research perspectives. Rivista Di Psichiatra, 55, 112–118.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arbuckle, T. Y., & Cuddy, L. L. (1969). Discrimination of item strength at time of presentation. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 81, 126–131.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ariel, R. (2013). Learning what to learn: The effects of task experience on strategy shifts in the allocation of study time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39, 1697–1711.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ariel, R., & Dunlosky, J. (2013). When do learners shift from habitual to agenda-based processes when selecting items for study? Memory & Cognition, 41, 416–428.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ariel, R., Dunlosky, J., & Bailey, H. (2009). Agenda-based regulation of study-time allocation: When agendas override item-based monitoring. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138, 432–447.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ariel, R., Al-Harthy, I. S., Was, C. A., & Dunlosky, J. (2011). Habitual reading biases in the allocation of study time. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 1015–1021.

    Google Scholar 

  • Castel, A. D., Benjamin, A. S., Craik, F. I. M., & Watkins, M. J. (2002). The effects of aging on selectivity and control in short-term recall. Memory & Cognition, 30, 1078–1085.

    Google Scholar 

  • Castel, A. D., McGillivray, S., & Friedman, M. C. (2012). Metamemory and memory efficiency in older adults: Learning about the benefits of priority processing and value-directed remembering. In M. Naveh-Benjamin & N. Ohta (Eds.), Memory and aging: Current issues and future directions (pp. 245–270). Psychology Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Castel, A. D., Murayama, K., Friedman, M. C., McGillivray, S., & Link, I. (2013a). Selecting valuable information to remember: Age-related differences and similarities in self-regulated learning. Psychology and Aging, 28, 232–242.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Castel, A. D., Rhodes, M. G., & Friedman, M. C. (2013b). Predicting memory benefits in the production effect: The use and misuse of self-generated distinctive cues when making judgments of learning. Memory & Cognition, 41, 28–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Castel, A. D. (2008). The adaptive and strategic use of memory by older adults: Evaluative processing and value-directed remembering. In A. S. Benjamin & B. H. Ross (Eds.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 48, pp. 225–270). Academic Press.

  • Craik, F. I. M., & Tulving, E. (1975). Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104, 268–294.

    Google Scholar 

  • Double, K. S., & Birney, D. P. (2019). Reactivity to measures of metacognition. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2755.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Double, K. S., Birney, D. P., & Walker, S. A. (2018). A meta-analysis and systematic review of reactivity to judgements of learning. Memory, 26, 741–750.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dunlosky, J., & Ariel, R. (2011b). The influence of agenda-based and habitual processes on item selection during study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 899–912.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dunlosky, J., Mueller, M. L., & Thiede, K. W. (2016). Methodology for investigating human metamemory: Problems and pitfalls. In J. Dunlosky & S. K. Tauber (Eds.), Oxford library of psychology: The Oxford handbook of metamemory (pp. 23–37). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunlosky, J., & Ariel, R. (2011a). Self-regulated learning and the allocation of study time. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Vol. 54. The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (pp. 103–140). Elsevier Academic Press.

  • Dunning, D., Johnson, K., Ehrlinger, J., & Kruger, J. (2003). Why people fail to recognize their own incompetence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 83–87.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fleischer, D. M., Perry, T. T., Atkins, D., Wood, R. A., Burks, A. W., Jones, S. M., Henning, A. K., Stablein, D., Sampson, H. A., & Sicherer, S. H. (2012). Allergic reactions to foods in preschool-aged children in a prospective observational food allergy study. Pediatrics, 130, e25–e32.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Gupta, R. S., Springston, E. E., Warrier, M. R., Smith, B., Kumar, R., Pongracic, J., & Holl, J. L. (2011). The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States. Pediatrics, 128, e9–e17.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gupta, R. S., Warren, C. M., Smith, B. M., Blumenstock, J. A., Jiang, J., Davis, M. M., & Nadeau, K. C. (2018). The public health impact of parent-reported childhood food allergies in the United States. Pediatrics, 142, e20181235.

  • Halamish, V., McGillivray, S., & Castel, A. D. (2011). Monitoring one’s own forgetting in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 26, 631–635.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Händel, M., de Bruin, A. B., & Dresel, M. (2020). Individual differences in local and global metacognitive judgments. Metacognition and Learning, 15, 51–75.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hargis, M. B., & Castel, A. D. (2019). Knowing what others know: Younger and older adults’ perspective-taking and memory for medication information. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 8, 481–493.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Hunt, R. R. (2003). Two contributions of distinctive processing to accurate memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 811–825.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hunt, R. R., & Smith, R. E. (1996). Accessing the particular from the general: The power of distinctiveness in the context of organization. Memory & Cognition, 24, 217–225.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hunt, R. R., & Worthen, J. B. (2006). Distinctiveness and memory. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Janes, J. L., Rivers, M. L., & Dunlosky, J. (2018). The influence of making judgments of learning on memory performance: Positive, negative, or both? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25, 2356–2364.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelley, C. M., & Sahakyan, L. (2003). Memory, monitoring, and control in the attainment of memory accuracy. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 704–721.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koriat, A. (1995). Dissociating knowing and the feeling of knowing: Further evidence for the accessibility model. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 124, 311–333.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koriat, A. (1997). Monitoring one’s own knowledge during study: A cue-utilization approach to judgments of learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126, 349–370.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kornell, N., & Metcalfe, J. (2006). Study efficacy and the region of proximal learning framework. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 609–622.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kroneisen, M., & Erdfelder, E. (2011). On the plasticity of the survival processing effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 1553–1562.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Madan, C. R. (2017). Motivated cognition: Effects of reward, emotion, and other motivational factors across a variety of cognitive domains. Collabra: Psychology, 3, 24.

  • McGillivray, S., & Castel, A. D. (2011). Betting on memory leads to metacognitive improvement in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 26, 137–142.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Metcalfe, J. (2009). Metacognitive judgments and control of study. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 159–163.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Metcalfe, J., & Finn, B. (2008). Evidence that judgments of learning are causally related to study choice. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15, 174–179.

    Google Scholar 

  • Middlebrooks, C. D., & Castel, A. D. (2018). Self-regulated learning of important information under sequential and simultaneous encoding conditions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44, 779–792.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mitchum, A. L., Kelley, C. M., & Fox, M. C. (2016). When asking the question changes the ultimate answer: Metamemory judgments change memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 200–219.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moscovitch, M., & Craik, F. I. M. (1976). Depth of processing, retrieval cues, and uniqueness of encoding as factors in recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 15, 447–458.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murdock, B. B. (1962). The serial position effect of free recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 64, 482–488.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murphy, D. H., & Castel, A. D. (2020). Responsible remembering: How metacognition impacts adaptive selective memory. Zeitschrift Für Psychologie, 228, 301–303.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murphy, D. H., & Castel, A. D. (2021a). Metamemory that matters: Judgments of importance can engage responsible remembering. Memory, 29, 271–283.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy, D. H., & Castel, A. D. (2021b). Responsible remembering and forgetting as contributors to memory for important information. Memory & Cognition, 49(5), 895–911. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-021-01139-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy, D. H., & Castel, A. D. (2022). Responsible remembering and forgetting in younger and older adults. Experimental Aging Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/0361073X.2022.2033592

  • Nelson, T. O. (1996). Consciousness and metacognition. American Psychologist, 51, 102–116.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, T. O., & Leonesio, R. J. (1988). Allocation of self-paced study time and the “labor-in-vain effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 14, 676–686.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, T. O., & Narens, L. (1990). Metamemory: A theoretical framework and new findings. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 26, 125–173.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, T. O., Dunlosky, J., Graf, A., & Narens, L. (1994). Utilization of metacognitive judgments in the allocation of study during multitrial learning. Psychological Science, 5, 207–213.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rhodes, M. G. (2016). Judgments of learning. In J. Dunlosky & S. K. Tauber (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of metamemory (pp. 65–80). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Robey, A. M., Dougherty, M. R., & Buttaccio, D. R. (2017). Making retrospective confidence judgments improves learners’ ability to decide what not to study. Psychological Science, 28, 1683–1693.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Röer, J. P., Bell, R., & Buchner, A. (2013). Is the survival-processing memory advantage due to richness of encoding? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39, 1294–1302.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rundus, D. (1971). Analysis of rehearsal processes in free recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 89, 63–77.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rundus, D., & Atkinson, R. C. (1970). Rehearsal processes in free recall: A procedure for direct observation. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 9, 99–105.

    Google Scholar 

  • Soderstrom, N. C., & McCabe, D. P. (2011). Are survival processing memory advantages based on ancestral priorities? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 564–569.

    Google Scholar 

  • Soderstrom, N. C., Clark, C. T., Halamish, V., & Bjork, E. L. (2015). Judgments of learning as memory modifiers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41, 553–558.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Son, L. K., & Metcalfe, J. (2000). Metacognitive and control strategies in study-time allocation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26, 204–221.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Spellman, B. A., & Bjork, R. A. (1992). When predictions create reality: Judgments of learning may alter what they are intended to assess. Psychological Science, 5, 315–316.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thiede, K. W., & Dunlosky, J. (1999). Toward a general model of self-regulated study: An analysis of selection of items for study and self-paced study time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25, 1024–1037.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thiede, K. W., Anderson, C. M., & Therriault, D. (2003). Accuracy of metacognitive monitoring affects learning of texts. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 66–75.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watkins, M. J. (1978). Engrams as cuegrams and forgetting as cue- overload: A cueing approach to the structure of memory. In C. R. Puff (Ed.), The structure of memory (pp. 347–372). Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watkins, O. C., & Watkins, M. J. (1975). Buildup of proactive inhibition as a cue-overload effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 1, 442–452.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Tyson Kerr for assistance in the creation of the task and Karina Agadzhanyan, Stephen Huckins, Marissa Pennino, and Jesse Kuehn for assistance with data collection.

Funding

This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging; Award Number R01 AG044335 to Alan D. Castel).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dillon H. Murphy.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial or nonfinancial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Open practices statement

None of the experiments reported in this article was formally preregistered, but the stimuli, data, and analysis code have been made available on the Open Science Framework here.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

The original version of this article was revised: The following Funding note was missing from this article as originally published: This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging; Award Number R01 AG044335 to Alan D. Castel).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Murphy, D.H., Hoover, K.M. & Castel, A.D. Strategic metacognition: Self-paced study time and responsible remembering. Mem Cogn (2022). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-022-01307-0

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-022-01307-0

Keywords

  • Metacognition
  • Monitoring
  • Control
  • Attention
  • Responsible remembering