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Poster E157

Continuous Effect of Processing Difficulty in Facilitating Analytical Thinking

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Atakan Atamer1 (, Zeynep Eylul Gul2, Behcet Yalin Ozkara3; 1University of Michigan, 2Koc University, 3Eskisehir Osmangazi University

While certain studies suggest that experiencing processing difficulties may facilitate analytical thinking, the wider literature displays inconsistent findings. In line with the cognitive load theory, cognitive load created by processing difficulty counteracts the anticipated benefits of the processing difficulty on reasoning which is the potential cause of inconsistencies in the findings. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate the effect of processing difficulties on reasoning while eliminating the concurrent cognitive load from the test material. In contrast to the common methodology of inducing processing difficulty by altering font readability in reasoning task questions, we isolated processing difficulty from the test material to eliminate concurrent cognitive load. We achieved this by creating processing difficulty (via font readability) before presenting the test material. Participants (n=90) first read either easy-to-process or difficult-to-process text about the planet Eris before solving Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) questions. Subsequently, both groups completed a 5-question CRT written in the easy-to-process font. Participants also reported their confidence in text memory. The group exposed to difficult-to-process text before CRT questions significantly outperformed the easy-to-process text group on the CRT. Although both groups performed equally well in the memory task, the difficult-to-process text condition reported lower confidence in text memory compared to the easy-to-process text condition, confirming trends in the literature. Our methodology for measuring the effects of processing difficulty on reasoning revealed that its impact persists even after removing processing difficulty from the context. Implications of this continuous effect on educational psychology and research methodology will be discussed.

Topic Area: THINKING: Reasoning


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