Updating during reading comprehension: Why causality matters

Panayiota Kendeou, Emily R. Smith, Edward J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present set of 7 experiments systematically examined the effectiveness of adding causal explanations to simple refutations in reducing or eliminating the impact of outdated information on subsequent comprehension. The addition of a single causal-explanation sentence to a refutation was sufficient to eliminate any measurable disruption in comprehension caused by the outdated information (Experiment 1) but was not sufficient to eliminate its reactivation (Experiment 2). However, a 3 sentence causal-explanation addition to a refutation eliminated both any measurable disruption in comprehension (Experiment 3) and the reactivation of the outdated information (Experiment 4). A direct comparison between the 1 and 3 causal-explanation conditions provided converging evidence for these findings (Experiment 5). Furthermore, a comparison of the 3 sentence causal-explanation condition with a 3 sentence qualified-elaboration condition demonstrated that even though both conditions were sufficient to eliminate any measurable disruption in comprehension (Experiment 6), only the causal-explanation condition was sufficient to eliminate the reactivation of the outdated information (Experiment 7). These results establish a boundary condition under which outdated information will influence comprehension; they also have broader implications for both the updating process and knowledge revision in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-865
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Causality
  • Refutation texts
  • Updating

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