Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Tim Curran

Second Advisor

Alice Healy

Third Advisor

Al Kim

Fourth Advisor

Chris Loersch

Fifth Advisor

Tammy Sumner

Abstract

The emergence of the Internet, and its connected devices, are fundamentally changing the way we interact with information. New technology has created affordances that both lessen the burden on human memory and facilitate access to a nearly infinite amount of knowledge. In six experiments, the current research sought to determine how increasing interactions with technology are affecting memory, and to identify the cognitive mechanisms that are driving those changes. Experiments 1a, 1b, and 2 implemented modified item-method directed forgetting paradigms to examine how future access to information affects subsequent memory. Results indicated that explicit information about future availability delivered as a post-stimulus cue did not impact memory, whereas memory was poorer for more readily available information when the inherent availability of the stimuli was manipulated. Experiment 3 delivered explicit availability as a pre-stimulus cue, and found that this change in timing resulted in poorer memory for information that was tagged as explicitly available in the future. Experiment 4 allowed availability to vary on a more natural scale, but failed to find significant memory differences that were not moderated by age. Experiment 5 implemented a list-method directed forgetting design, and corroborated findings from Experiment 3 indicating that an explicit availability pre-cue affected subsequent memory, whereas an analogous post-cue did not. Taken together, this research provides considerable evidence that availability-related memory effects are separable from directed forgetting effects, and are driven by differences that occur during the encoding phase rather than by later intentional forgetting mechanisms.

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