The role of metacognition in prospective memory: Anticipated task demands influence attention allocation strategies

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (3):931-943 (2013)
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Abstract

The present study investigates how individuals distribute their attentional resources between a prospective memory task and an ongoing task. Therefore, metacognitive expectations about the attentional demands of the prospective-memory task were manipulated while the factual demands were held constant. In Experiments 1a and 1b, we found attentional costs from a prospective-memory task with low factual demands to be significantly reduced when information about the low to-be-expected demands were provided, while prospective-memory performance remained largely unaffected. In Experiment 2, attentional monitoring in a more demanding prospective-memory task also varied with information about the to-be-expected demands and again there were no equivalent changes in prospective-memory performance. These findings suggest that attention–allocation strategies of prospective memory rely on metacognitive expectations about prospective-memory task demands. Furthermore, the results suggest that attentional monitoring is only functional for prospective memory to the extent to which anticipated task demands reflect objective task demands

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