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Strategic offloading of delayed intentions into the external environment.

Gilbert, SJ; (2014) Strategic offloading of delayed intentions into the external environment. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology , 68 (5) 1 - 22. 10.1080/17470218.2014.972963. Green open access

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Abstract

In everyday life, we often use external artefacts such as diaries to help us remember intended behaviours. In addition, we commonly manipulate our environment, for example by placing reminders in noticeable places. Yet strategic offloading of intentions to the external environment is not typically permitted in laboratory tasks examining memory for delayed intentions. What factors influence our use of such strategies, and what behavioural consequences do they have? This article describes four online experiments (N = 1196) examining a novel web-based task in which participants hold intentions for brief periods, with the option to strategically externalize these intentions by creating a reminder. This task significantly predicted participants' fulfilment of a naturalistic intention embedded within their everyday activities up to one week later (with greater predictive ability than more traditional prospective memory tasks, albeit with weak effect size). Setting external reminders improved performance, and it was more prevalent in older adults. Furthermore, participants set reminders adaptively, based on (a) memory load, and (b) the likelihood of distraction. These results suggest the importance of metacognitive processes in triggering intention offloading, which can increase the probability that intentions are eventually fulfilled.

Type: Article
Title: Strategic offloading of delayed intentions into the external environment.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2014.972963
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2014.972963
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
Keywords: Distributed cognition, Intentions, Internet, Metacognition, Prospective memory, Reminders
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1457331
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