How checking as a cognitive style influences working memory performance

Ben Harkin, Klaus Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Compulsive checking is known to influence memory, yet there is little consideration of checking as a cognitive style within the typical population. We employed a working memory task where letters had to be remembered in their locations. The key experimental manipulation was to induce repeated checking after encoding by asking about a stimulus that had not been presented. We recorded the effect that such misleading probes had on a subsequent memory test. Participants drawn from the typical population but who scored highly on a checking-scale had poorer memory and less confidence than low scoring individuals. While thoroughness is regarded as a quality, our results indicate that a cognitive style that favours repeated checking does not always lead to the best performance as it can undermine the authenticity of memory traces. This may affect various aspects of everyday life including the work environment and we discuss its implications and possible counter-measures. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-228
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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