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Anticipating performance contributes to memory deficit

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Anticipating your own performance at work or school may hinder your pre-performance memory. Also, the presence of an audience may be an important contributory factor to the deficit, suggests a study.

The study was published in the 'Journal of Memory and Language'.

"Performance anticipation could weaken memory because people tend to focus on the details of their upcoming presentation instead of paying attention to information that occurs before their performance," said lead author Noah Forrin, a postdoctoral fellow in Psychology at Waterloo. "People who experience performance anxiety may be particularly likely to experience this phenomenon."

Building on what previous research called the next-in-line effect, Forrin and his co-authors explored how different ways of preparing for a presentation impact the pre-performance memory deficit.

They experimented with a variety of techniques that enhance memory, including the production effect, which is a simple yet powerful idea that we can remember something best if we say it aloud.

One of the study's co-authors, Psychology professor Colin MacLeod, coined the term production effect from previous research which identified that reading aloud involves at least three distinct processes that help to encode memory: articulation, audition, and self-reference.

In the new study, however, the findings suggested that the production effect has a downside: When people anticipate reading out loud, they may have worse memory for information that they encounter before reading aloud.

The researchers conducted four experiments with 400 undergraduate students and found that students have worse memory for words that they read silently when they anticipate having to read upcoming words aloud (compared to when they anticipate having to read upcoming words silently).

"Our results show that performance anticipation may be detrimental to effective memory encoding strategies," said Forrin. "Students frequently have upcoming performances -- whether for class presentations or the expectation of class participation."

"We are currently examining whether the anticipation of those future performances reduces students' learning and memory in the classroom."

One strategy to avoid pre-performance memory deficits, said Forrin, is "try to get your performance over by being the first student in the class (or employee in a meeting) to present. After that, you can focus on others' presentations without anticipating your own.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, October 06 2019. 18:42 IST
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