Processing information requires cognitive resources, which are limited according to one’s working memory capacity. The workload one can manage depends on several factors, including task demands or individual characteristics. Technologies capable of managing and storing information are readily available to relieve one’s mental capacity for storing information by transferring information to the external environment for later use, a process known as cognitive offloading. Although cognitive offloading can improve performance, other factors such as the amount of effort required to perform the offloading task and the offloading tool’s availability can affect the individual’s decision to engage in the offloading process. The current study examined the role of a digital tool’s availability in influencing participants’ continued use of the tool to aid them in performing a mental rotation task. Participants were instructed about whether they could or could not choose to use a tool to help them perform the mental rotation task (i.e., choice to offload) in a practice session. In the test session, the availability of the tool was manipulated by making the tool available or unavailable on a certain percentage of trials across blocks. Forty-nine participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, one in which the availability of the tool decreased across blocks or one in which the availability of the tool increased across blocks. In addition, the task difficulty was manipulated by varying the angle of rotation required to perform the task and whether the participants had to make judgments based on whether the stimuli were in the same or a mirrored orientation. The proportion of trials in which participants used the tool when it was available, accuracy in performing the mental rotation task, and response times were measured. These dependent variables were submitted to separate 2 (Condition: Low-to-High and High-to-Low) x 6 (Percent Availability: 15%-90%) x 3 (Angles of Rotation: 90, 180, and 270) x 2 (Orientation: Standard or Mirrored) ANOVAs, with condition
being the only between-subjects variable. The results showed that participants relied on the tool, when it was made available, on a majority of trials. Although participants used the tool for assistance, their accuracy was not very high because the tool only allowed them to rotate the stimuli, but not flip the stimuli, which was required to perform the task correctly for the mirrored stimuli. Moreover, having the tool available slowed participants’ responses in some conditions. These findings suggest that having a tool that only performs part of a task may not be helpful to participants as participants may need to devote time deciding on whether to use the tool on specific trials.
|Advisor:||Vu, Kim-Phuong L.|
|Commitee:||Strybel, Thomas Z., Miles, James D.|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 82/2(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Information science, Cognitive psychology|
|Keywords:||Cognitive offloading, Spatial ability, Offloading tool|
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