Information Reduction - more than meets the eye?

Rowell, Nancy; Green, Alison; Kaye, Helen and Naish, Peter (2014). Information Reduction - more than meets the eye? Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 27(1) pp. 89–113.



Information Reduction, a performance-enhancing cognitive strategy which develops with practice, is thought to be consciously and abruptly adopted and then applied consistently. Previous investigations used an Alphabet Verification Task where one observation was that not everyone adopts the strategy, but reasons for this are unclear. We demonstrated Information Reduction in three other tasks, confirming that it is not task-specific. Post-testing questionnaires probed verbally expressible knowledge, to gauge conscious awareness of any strategy. Overall, results indicate considerable variation in Information Reduction usage: some individuals discovered and used the strategy and could verbally express this, others chose not to use it and some appeared to use it without awareness of doing so. Results also indicate that Information Reduction is not consistently applied, suggesting it is less robust than has been proposed. Our results may be better explained by a theory of practice learning which incorporates both data-driven automaticity and top-down controlled processes.

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