Washington: Anticipating your own performance at work or school may hinder your pre-performance memory. Also, the presence of an audience may be an important contributory factor to the deficit, suggests a study.
“Performance anticipation could weaken memory because people tend to focus on the details of their upcoming presentation instead of paying attention to information that occurs before their performance,” said lead author Noah Forrin, a postdoctoral fellow in Psychology at Waterloo. “People who experience performance anxiety may be particularly likely to experience this phenomenon.” Building on what previous research called the next-in-line effect, Forrin and his co-authors explored how different ways of preparing for a presentation impact the pre-performance memory deficit.
One of the study’s co-authors, Psychology professor Colin MacLeod, coined the term production effect from previous research which identified that reading aloud involves at least three distinct processes that help to encode memory: articulation, audition, and self-reference. However, the findings suggested that the production effect has a downside: When people anticipate reading out loud, they may have worse memory for information that they encounter before reading aloud.
The researchers conducted four experiments with 400 undergraduate students and found that students have worse memory for words that they read silently when they anticipate having to read upcoming words aloud . “Our results show that performance anticipation may be detrimental to effective memory encoding strategies,” said Forrin.