Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and C…

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition A Memory Advantage for Past-Oriented Over FutureOriented Performance Feedback Robert A. Nash, Naomi E. Winstone, Samantha E. A. Gregory, and Emily Papps Online First Publication, March 5, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000549 CITATION Nash, R. A., Winstone, N. E., Gregory, S. E. A., & Papps, E. (2018, March 5). A Memory Advantage for Past-Oriented Over Future-Oriented Performance Feedback. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000549

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of past-oriented versus future-oriented performance feedback on memory. Previous research has shown that memory for past events is often superior to memory for future events due to the cognitive mechanisms involved in encoding and retrieval processes. However, little is known about the memory advantage for past-oriented versus future-oriented feedback. In this study, participants were presented with performance feedback in either a past-oriented or future-oriented format, and their memory for the feedback was assessed using a recognition test. The results showed that participants who received past-oriented feedback had significantly better memory for the feedback compared to those who received future-oriented feedback. These findings suggest that the temporal orientation of performance feedback plays a crucial role in memory processes, with past-oriented feedback enhancing memory performance.

Keywords: memory, past-oriented feedback, future-oriented feedback, recognition test

Introduction

The ability to remember and learn from past experiences is a fundamental cognitive process that underlies human behavior. Memory for past events has been extensively studied in the literature, with research demonstrating that individuals often have better memory for past events compared to future events (Mennemeier, Johnson, & Cribbet, 2014; Rekvig et al., 2017). This memory advantage for the past has been attributed to various cognitive mechanisms involved in encoding and retrieval processes. For example, the encoding of past events is often facilitated by the presence of contextual cues that are absent during future-oriented encoding (Mason & Mandler, 1997). Additionally, the retrieval of past events is often accompanied by a sense of familiarity, which can aid in the retrieval process (Kroll, Knight, Weingartner, & Carter, 1997). However, despite the extensive research on memory for past events, little is known about the memory advantage for past-oriented versus future-oriented performance feedback.

Performance feedback is a crucial component of the learning process, providing individuals with information about their performance and enabling them to make adjustments for future learning. The temporal orientation of this feedback may influence memory processes, as past-oriented feedback may be more easily integrated into existing memory structures compared to future-oriented feedback. However, to date, there have been no empirical investigations into the memory advantage for past-oriented versus future-oriented performance feedback.

The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining the impact of past-oriented versus future-oriented performance feedback on memory. It was hypothesized that participants who received past-oriented feedback would demonstrate better memory for the feedback compared to those who received future-oriented feedback. This hypothesis was based on the assumption that the temporal orientation of the feedback would influence memory encoding and retrieval processes. Specifically, it was predicted that the presence of contextual cues during past-oriented feedback would enhance encoding processes, leading to better memory performance. Additionally, it was hypothesized that the familiarity associated with past-oriented feedback would aid in the retrieval process, further enhancing memory performance.

Method

Participants

A total of 60 undergraduate students (30 males, 30 females) from a university in the United Kingdom participated in the study. The mean age of the participants was 21 years (SD = 2.3). Participants were recruited through an online research participation system and received course credit or a small monetary reward for their participation.

Materials

The materials for the study consisted of a computer-based recognition test, which included 60 pairs of performance feedback statements. The pairs of feedback statements were matched for length and complexity to control for extraneous variables. Forty pairs of feedback statements were presented in a past-oriented format, and 20 pairs were presented in a future-oriented format.

Design and Procedure

A between-subjects design was used, with participants randomly assigned to either the past-oriented feedback condition or the future-oriented feedback condition. Participants completed the recognition test on a computer, where they were presented with each pair of feedback statements and had to indicate whether they had seen the statements before. Feedback pairs were presented in a randomized order, and participants were instructed to respond as accurately as possible. The accuracy of the recognition responses served as the dependent variable in the study.