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, 8 (3), e57999

Cognitive Strategy Use and Measured Numeric Ability in Immediate- And Long-Term Recall of Everyday Numeric Information

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Cognitive Strategy Use and Measured Numeric Ability in Immediate- And Long-Term Recall of Everyday Numeric Information

Douglas Bermingham et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

The goals of this study were to assess the primary effects of the use of cognitive strategy and a combined measure of numeric ability on recall of every-day numeric information (i.e. prices). Additionally, numeric ability was assessed as a moderator in the relationship between strategy use and memory for prices. One hundred participants memorized twelve prices that varied from 1 to 6 digits; they recalled these immediately and after 7 days. The use of strategies, assessed through self-report, was associated with better overall recall, but not forgetting. Numeric ability was not associated with either better overall recall or forgetting. A small moderating interaction was found, in which higher levels of numeric ability enhanced the beneficial effects of strategy use on overall recall. Exploratory analyses found two further small moderating interactions: simple strategy use enhanced overall recall at higher levels of numeric ability, compared to complex strategy use; and complex strategy use was associated with lower levels of forgetting, but only at higher levels of numeric ability, compared to the simple strategy use. These results provide support for an objective measure of numeric ability, as well as adding to the literature on memory and the benefits of cognitive strategy use.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Possible Effects of Numeric Ability and Strategy Use on Recall of Prices.
Three possible models of the effects of numeric ability and strategy use on recall of prices. Top: under-additive model, wherein the positive impacts of strategy use are reduced at higher levels of numeric ability. Middle: additive model, wherein strategy users and non-strategy users benefit equally from higher levels of numeric ability. Bottom: over-additive model, wherein the benefits of strategy use are enhanced at higher levels of numeric ability.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Moderating Interaction of Strategy Use on Numeric Ability for Overall Recall.
Overall recall regressed onto numeric ability for the two strategy groups (no strategy used v.s. strategy used). A significant moderating interaction of strategy use was found on the relationship between numeric ability and overall recall of prices (recall averaged over the immediate and 7-day recall intervals). Self-reported strategy use was associated with better overall recall only at higher levels of numeric ability. Numeric ability is represented as a mean-centered variable.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Moderating Interaction of Strategy Use on Numeric Ability for Overall Recall and of Forgetting.
Overall recall and forgetting regressed onto numeric ability for the two strategy groups (simple strategy v.s. complex strategy). A significant moderating interaction of strategy type was found on the relationship between numeric ability and overall recall of prices (recall averaged over the immediate and 7-day recall intervals). Simpler strategy use was associated with better overall recall only at higher levels of numeric ability for average recall. A significant moderating interaction of strategy type was also found: more complex strategies were associated with lower rates of forgetting, but only at higher levels of numeric ability. Numeric ability is represented as a mean-centered variable.

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Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.
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