Abbie Ball


The current research aimed to further the knowledge as to why people often terminate studying of novel information early, which has been found to be detrimental to performance. It has been suggested that stopping is due to an incorrect belief in information overload, specifically that seeing a higher volume of information is harmful for performance. The current research explored stopping under multiple perspectives. This included whether it is a metacognitive mechanism, a motivational mechanism or whether it is purely a belief in information overload. Chapter 1 reviews the relevant literature around stopping and study time allocation. Chapters 2-4 report 9 experiments that aimed to explore stopping of word lists, repeated word lists and texts, respectively. Chapter 2 reports four experiments, which suggest that stopping of word lists is less likely a metacognitive function, and more likely to be due to motivational factors. It also poses doubt for the original suggestion that stopping is due to an information overload belief. Chapter 3 contains the reporting of two experiments that suggest stopping of repeated word lists is consistent with a motivational account. Chapter 4 also reported similar findings with three experiments showing this account is consistent with text stimuli. Chapter 5 therefore concludes that the results provide evidence that stopping is due to motivational factors, in particular that stopping could be due to a decrease in rate of acquisition as study time increases, leading to the motivation to stop the presentation of information.

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