Evan F Risko's research while affiliated with University of Waterloo and other places

Publications (155)

Article
Previous work demonstrates that individuals often recall less information if, at study, there is expectation that an external memory store will be available at test. One explanation for this effect is that when individuals can expect access to an external memory store, they forgo intentional, controlled efforts at encoding. The present work offers...
Article
Cognitive effort is a central construct in our lives, yet our understanding of the processes underlying our judgments of effort are limited. Recent work has suggested that our judgments of effort are sensitive to the context in which they are made (i.e., the judgment context). Using a cognitive task and stimulus set that has produced a reliable dis...
Article
Memory is reliably better for information read aloud relative to information read silently—the production effect. Three preregistered experiments examined whether the production effect arises from a more time-consuming retrieval process operating at test that benefits items that were produced at study. Participants studied items either aloud or sil...
Article
We often rely on external devices to store to-be-remembered information in our everyday lives (e.g., writing grocery lists, setting reminders), yet there is limited research about how certain information (i.e., valuable information) may be differentially encoded when we rely on our internal memory versus an external store. Across three preregistere...
Article
Offloading memory to external stores (e.g., a saved file) allows us to evade the limitations of our internal memory. One cost of this strategy is that the external memory store used may be accessible to others and, thus, may be manipulated. Here we examine how reducing the perceived reliability of an external memory store and manipulating one’s exp...
Article
When we can offload to-be-remembered information to an external store, our ability to recall that information from internal memory can be diminished. However, previous research has suggested that associative memory processes may remain intact in the face of offloading behaviour. In the present investigation, we examine how the opportunity to offloa...
Article
Relying on external memory aids is a common memory strategy that has long allowed us to “remember” vast amounts of information more reliably than with our internal memory alone. However, recent work has provided evidence consistent with the idea that offloading memory demands encourages a reduced engagement in intentional or top-down memory strateg...
Article
A widely held account asserts that single words are automatically identified in the absence of an intent to process them in the form of identifying a task set, and implementing it. We provide novel evidence that there is no fixed relation between intention and visual word identification. Subjects were randomly cued on a trial-by-trial basis as to w...
Article
Full-text available
Humans routinely organize or reconfigure the environment as part of their everyday activities, such as placing a set of keys in a designated location to reduce the need to remember its location. This type of spatial organization is widely thought to reduce both the physical and cognitive demands of a task in order to allow individuals to perform ta...
Article
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Our metacognitive ability to monitor and evaluate our cognitive performance is central to efficient and adaptive behaviors. Research investigating this ability has focused largely on tasks that rely exclusively on internal processes (e.g., memory). However, our day-today cognitive activities often consist of mixes of internal and external processes...
Article
Although we are constantly making spatial decisions about where to place our objects and ourselves, few studies in psychology have investigated this phenomenon in‐depth. In the current study, we examined how spatial decisions are made over time by tracking students’ seating choices in classrooms over the course of a semester (i.e., 12 weeks). We fo...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive effort is a central construct in our lives, yet our understanding of the processes underlying our perception of effort are limited. Performance is typically used as one way to assess effort in cognitive tasks (e.g., tasks that take longer are generally thought to be more effortful); however, Dunn and Risko (2016) reported a recent case wh...
Article
We propose a novel phenomenon, attention contagion, defined as the spread of attentive (or inattentive) states among members of a group. We examined attention contagion in a learning environment in which pairs of undergraduate students watched a lecture video. Each pair consisted of a participant and a confederate trained to exhibit attentive behav...
Article
Full-text available
Research into both receptivity to falling for bullshit and the propensity to produce it have recently emerged as active, independent areas of inquiry into the spread of misleading information. However, it remains unclear whether those who frequently produce bullshit are inoculated from its influence. For example, both bullshit receptivity and bulls...
Article
With the increase in online course use (Allen & Seaman, 2017), there is an increasing need to determine the most effective (i.e., the most conducive for learning) way to present lectures online (e.g., video lectures). Lecture graphics that are interesting but extraneous to the content (e.g., a celebrity), have been shown to impair comprehension of...
Article
Full-text available
Three experiments (N = 550) examined the effect of an interval construction elicitation method used in several expert elicitation studies on judgment accuracy. Participants made judgments about topics that were either searchable or unsearchable online using one of two order variations of the interval construction procedure. One group of participant...
Article
Full-text available
The effect of cognitive load on social attention was examined across three experiments in a live pedestrian passing scenario (Experiments 1 and 2) and with the same scenario presented as a video (Experiment 3). In all three experiments, the load was manipulated using an auditory 2-back task. While the participant was wearing a mobile eye-tracker, t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Research into both receptivity to falling for bullshit and the propensity to produce it have recently emerged as active, independent areas of inquiry into the spread of misleading information. However, it remains unclear whether those who frequently produce bullshit are inoculated from its influence. For example, both bullshit receptivity and bulls...
Article
Offloading to-be-remembered information is a ubiquitous memory strategy, yet in relying on external memory stores, our ability to recall from internal memory is often diminished. In the present investigation, we examine how offloading impacts true and false recall. Across three experiments, participants studied and wrote down word lists that were e...
Poster
Full-text available
Research suggests that some people may be dispositionally prone to committing certain types of analytic and metacognitive errors. Recent work has revealed individual differences in the extent to which grandiose and vulnerable narcissists are metacognitively miscalibrated with respect to cognitive ability (Littrell, Fugelsang, & Risko, 2019). The p...
Article
An important aspect of embodied approaches to cognition is the idea that human cognition does not occur simply in the brain, but is influenced by a complex bi-directional interplay between the brain, body, and external environment. Though embodied cognition is often studied in a controlled laboratory setting, by its very nature it can arise spontan...
Article
The prevalence of the acronym tl;dr (“too long; didn’t read”) suggests that people intentionally disengage their attention from long sections of text. We studied this real-world phenomenon in an educational context by measuring rates of intentional and unintentional mind-wandering while undergraduate student participants (n = 80) read academic pass...
Preprint
Full-text available
Three experiments (N = 854) examined the effect of a four-step elicitation method used in several expert elicitation studies on judgment accuracy. Participants made judgments about topics that were either searchable or unsearchable online using one of two order variations of the four-step procedure. One group of participants provided their best jud...
Article
Full-text available
Recent psychological research has identified important individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit, which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the processes behind susceptibility to pseudo‐profound or otherwise misleading information. However, the bulk of this research attention has focused on cognitive and dispositional fac...
Article
Full-text available
In four experiments, we explore the role that verbal WM plays in numerical comparison. Experiment 1 demonstrates that verbal WM load differentially impacts the two most common variants of numerical comparison tasks, evidenced by distinct modulation of the size of the numerical distance effect (NDE). Specifically, when comparing one Arabic digit to...
Poster
Full-text available
Research into one’s receptivity to bullshit and the propensity to produce it has recently emerged as active, independent areas of inquiry. Interestingly, the psychological basis of each appears to overlap. For example, both bullshit receptivity (BSR) and bullshit frequency (BSF) are negatively related to cognitive ability and analytic thinking styl...
Article
Full-text available
The extent to which a person engages in reflective thinking while problem-solving is often measured using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT; Frederick, 2005). Some past research has attributed poorer performance on the CRT to impulsiveness, which is consistent with the close conceptual relation between Type I processing and dispositional impulsive...
Article
Offloading is a widespread and vital strategy for remembering. Yet, we lack a deep understanding of the mechanisms involved during the offloading of to-be-remembered information. One hypothesis is that offloading information is associated with a reduced engagement of top-down mnemonic strategies. A resulting prediction is that phenomena not solely...
Preprint
Recent psychological research has identified important individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit, which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the processes behind susceptibility to pseudo-profound or otherwise misleading information. However, the bulk of this research attention has focused on cognitive and dispositional fac...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent psychological research has identified important individual differences associated with receptivity to bullshit, which has greatly enhanced our understanding of the processes behind susceptibility to pseudo-profound or otherwise misleading information. However, the bulk of this research attention has focused on cognitive and dispositional fac...
Article
People often behave differently when they know they are being watched. Here, we report the first investigation of whether such social presence effects also include brain monitoring technology, and also their impacts on the measured neural activity. We demonstrate that merely informing participants that fMRI has the potential to observe (thought-rel...
Preprint
The extent to which a person engages in reflective thinking while problem-solving is often measured using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT; Frederick, 2005). Some past research has attributed poorer performance on the CRT to impulsiveness which is consistent with the close conceptual relation between Type I processing and dispositional impulsiven...
Article
Full-text available
There exists a large body of work examining individual differences in the propensity to engage in reflective thinking processes. However, there is a distinct lack of empirical research examining the role of dispositional factors in these differences and understanding these associations could provide valuable insight into decision-making. Here, we e...
Article
Full-text available
We explored the possibility that increasing participants’ motivation to perform well on a focal task can reduce mind wandering. Participants completed a sustained-attention task either with standard instructions (normal motivation), or with instructions informing them that they could be excused from the experiment early if they achieved a certain l...
Article
Full-text available
Why are some actions evaluated as effortful? In the present set of experiments we address this question by examining individuals’ perception of effort when faced with a trade-off between two putative cognitive costs: how much time a task takes vs. how error-prone it is. Specifically, we were interested in whether individuals anticipate engaging in...
Article
Full-text available
The notion that individuals adapt their behaviors in ways that are sensitive to the effortfulness of cognitive processing is pervasive in psychology. In the current set of experiments, we provide a test of a cue-utilization account of how individuals decide which course of action is more or less effortful. In particular, we contrast the influences...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the long history and pervasiveness of cognitive offloading as a memory strategy, the memorial fate of offloaded information is not well understood. Recent work has suggested that offloading information may engage similar mechanisms as instructions to forget (e.g., directed forgetting). In the present investigation, we test this prediction b...
Article
We often offload memory demands onto external artefacts (e.g., smartphones). While this practice allows us to subvert the limitations of our biological memory, storing memories externally exposes them to manipulation. To examine the impact of such manipulation, we report three experiments, two of which were pre-registered. Individuals performed a m...
Article
Full-text available
In many situations, increasing task difficulty decreases thoughts that are unrelated to the task (i.e., mind-wandering). In the context of reading, however, recent research demonstrated that increasing passage reading difficulty actually increases mind-wandering rates (e.g., Feng et al. in Psychon Bull Rev 20:586–592, 2013). The primary goal of thi...
Article
Online learning is a rapidly growing educational domain, and while it totes many benefits, learners face unique challenges. Video lectures, a popular online content delivery format, are frequently terminated within the first 5 min. Even when students watch the entire video, mind wandering (MW) increases substantially as a function of time. One solu...
Article
Material re-exposure (e.g., re-reading) is a popular mnemonic strategy, however, its utility has been questioned. We extend research on re-reading to re-watching - an emerging mnemonic technique given the increased use of recorded lectures today (e.g., in online courses). Consistent with findings from recent investigations of re-reading, there were...
Article
Recent research has indicated that reducing the difficulty of a task by increasing the predictability of critical stimuli produces increases in intentional mind wandering, but, contrary to theoretical expectations, decreases in unintentional mind wandering. Here, we sought to determine whether reducing task difficulty by reducing working-memory loa...
Article
Based on a recent metacognitive account, cognitive effort is the result of an inferential evaluation made over explicitly available cues. Following from this account, we present here a pre-registered experiment that tested the specific hypothesis that explicit awareness of cues that are aligned with cognitive demand is a prerequisite in avoiding ef...
Article
Full-text available
We examined the hypothesis that people can modulate their mind wandering on the basis of their expectations of upcoming challenges in a task. To this end, we developed a novel paradigm in which participants were presented with an analog clock, via a computer monitor, and asked to push a button every time the clock’s hand was pointed at 12:00. Impor...
Article
Online education provides the opportunity to present lecture material to students in different formats or modalities, however there is debate about which lecture formats are best. Here, we conducted four experiments with 19–68 year old online participants to address the question of whether visuals of the instructor in online video lectures benefit...
Article
We present novel evidence that mind-wandering rates during a reading task are influenced by experimental context. In Experiment 1, participants read a series of passages and we measured their frequency of mind-wandering and their subjective evaluations of passage difficulty/interest. Section length was manipulated, such that some passages were pres...
Article
Our willingness to persist in problem solving is often held up as a critical component in being successful. Allied against this ability, however, are a number of situational factors that undermine our persistence. In the present investigation, the authors examine 1 such factor—knowing that the answers to a problem are easily accessible. Does having...
Article
Understanding the basic mechanisms underlying attentional function using naturalistic stimuli, tasks, and/or settings is the focus of everyday attention research. Interest in everyday approaches to attention research has increased recently—arguably riding a more general wave of support for such considerations in experimental psychology. This specia...
Article
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Much previous research has conceptualized pauses during writing as indicators of the engagement of higher-level cognitive processes. In the present study 101 university students composed narrative or argumentative essays, while their key logging was recorded. We investigated the relation between pauses within three time intervals (300–999, 1000–199...
Article
We hypothesize that cognitively engaged readers dynamically adjust their reading times with respect to text complexity (i.e., reading times should increase for difficult sections and decrease for easier ones) and failure to do so should impair comprehension. This hypothesis is consistent with theories of text comprehension but has surprisingly been...
Article
Individuals often modify speech characteristics to accommodate their listeners. In the present study we investigate how speakers modify their speech in a dictation task and what this says about their beliefs with respect to the listener's information processing limitations. To do so, we asked participants to either read a set of numbers aloud, or d...
Article
Full-text available
The claim that humans adapt their actions in ways that avoid effortful processing (whether cognitive or physical) is a staple of various theories of human behavior. Although much work has been carried out focusing on the determinants of such behaviors, less attention has been given to how individuals evaluate effort. In the current set of experimen...
Article
Full-text available
One recent line of research in the literature on mind wandering has been concerned with examining rates of mind wandering in special populations, such as those characterized by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dysphoria, and schizophrenia. To best conceptualize mind wandering in studies examining special populations, it has recently been s...
Article
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Researchers have recently demonstrated that mind-wandering episodes can vary on numerous dimensions, and it has been suggested that assessing these dimensions will play an important role in our understanding of mind wandering. One dimension that has received considerable attention in recent work is the intentionality of mind wandering. Although it...
Article
Recent research has suggested that introducing a disfluency in the context of written composition (i.e., typing with one hand) can increase lexical sophistication. In the current study, we provide a strong test between two accounts of this phenomenon, one that attributes it to the delay caused by the disfluency and one that attributes it to the dis...
Chapter
We consider a research approach called cognitive ethology, which seeks to link cognitions and behaviors as they operate in everyday life with those studied in controlled lab-based investigations. Our test-bed is human social attention which has been traditionally investigated in the laboratory, using images and videos of people as stimuli. By apply...
Article
The ease with which individuals can access information has changed drastically with the advent of the Internet. Understanding how this change in our information landscape influences thinking represents an important question for psychological science. Research has demonstrated that we have a fairly accurate sense of the relative availability of inte...
Article
The frequency with which words appear in print is a powerful predictor of the time to read monosyllabic words aloud, and consequently all models of reading aloud provide an explanation for this effect. The entire class of localist accounts assumes that the effect of word frequency arises because the mental lexicon is organized around frequency of o...
Article
If you have ever tilted your head to perceive a rotated image, or programmed a smartphone to remind you of an upcoming appointment, you have engaged in cognitive offloading: the use of physical action to alter the information processing requirements of a task so as to reduce cognitive demand. Despite the ubiquity of this type of behavior, it has on...
Article
The past decade has seen a surge of research examining mind-wandering, but most of this research has not considered the potential importance of distinguishing between intentional and unintentional mind-wandering. However, a recent series of papers have demonstrated that mind-wandering reported in empirical investigations frequently occurs with and...
Article
The standard view in cognition is that the identification of visually presented words, up to and including semantic activation, is automatic in various senses. The perspective favored here is that various kinds of attention are intimately involved in the identification of words. Some forms of attention are necessary, whereas others (i.e., executive...
Article
Full-text available
Contagious yawning may be a useful measure of social psychological functioning, and thus it is important to evaluate the variables influencing its expression in laboratory settings. Previous research has documented that humans yawn less frequently in crowded environments and when under direct observation, but the impact of social presence on contag...
Article
Full-text available
In the current set of experiments our goal was to test the hypothesis that individuals avoid courses of action based on a kind of metacognitive evaluation of demand in a Demand Selection Task (DST).Individuals in Experiment 1 completed a DST utilizing visual stimuli known to yield a dissociation between performance and perceived demand. Patterns of...
Article
Recent research has demonstrated that mind wandering can be subdivided into spontaneous and deliberate types, and this distinction has been found to hold at both the trait and state levels. However, to date, no attempts have been made to link trait-level spontaneous and deliberate mind wandering with state-level assessments of these two subtypes of...
Article
Re-reading has been shown to have a minimal benefit on text comprehension, in comparison to reading only once or other types of study techniques (e.g., testing; self-explanation). In two experiments we examined the effect of re-reading on mind wandering. Participants read two texts, during which they responded to intermittent mind wandering probes....
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, there has been an enormous increase in the number of studies examining mind wandering. Although participants' reports of mind wandering are often assumed to largely reflect spontaneous, unintentional thoughts, many researchers' conceptualizations of mind wandering have left open the possibility that at least some of these reports r...
Article
Despite the important role that the physical environment plays in shaping human cognition, few studies have endeavored to experimentally examine the principles underlying how individuals organize objects in their space. The current investigation examines the idea that humans organize objects in their space in order to minimize effort or maximize pe...
Article
Previous analyses of the standard Stroop effect (which typically uses color words that form part of the response set) have documented effects on mean reaction times in hundreds of experiments in the literature. Less well known is the fact that ex-Gaussian analyses reveal that such effects are seen in (a) the mean of the normal distribution (mu), as...