Expected later information access invites shorter reading time and possible comprehension loss

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för psykologi

Abstract: With the increased use of technology in society, there are concerns about how reading is affected by the constant access to an incessantly increasing amount of information. The present study examined how reading strategies and resulting memory and comprehension is affected by the belief that information to be remembered would continue to be available. In a within- participant experiment, twenty-seven participants were instructed to read six texts, and led to believe that they would have access to some of the texts while later answering comprehension questions. The results showed that participants spent significantly longer time reading texts they believed would not be accessible later, compared to those they believed they would have access to (p= .0007, d = 0.47). The participants did achieve slightly higher scores on the comprehension questions for the texts they believed they would not have access to, compared to the other condition, but the effect was not significant. The findings have implications for potential changes to reading strategies in response to increased use of technology as an external memory and information storage. I discuss how these strategies could have affected the raise of Fake News, inasmuch as increased information load from the Internet leads to a less meticulous reading style.

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