Psychology 9990

Cognitive Approach (Andrade J. 2010)


Cognitive Approach (Andrade J. 2010)

Introduction to the Cognitive Approach:

The whole mechanism of memory is a cognitive process and can be influenced by tasks and variables that may enhance or weaken the memory, such as; doodling which apparently increases concentration. This suggests that there are methods through which we may be able to improve our memories of certain events. 

The cognitive approach usually utilizes objective and scientific methodologies, procedures to create and test out the hypothesis via experimental techniques. Cognitive theories do simplify cognitive processes and allow us to understand mental mechanisms that are not perhaps not so easily observable. However, the cognitive approach does tend to foresee biological factors such as genetic influences and provides a mechanistic view of human behaviour. 


This study investigates the effect of doodling on the impairment of attention or concentration on a task (resources being taken away) or whether the effect of doodling on the enhancement of attention or concentration on a task (maintaining arousal).
It is common in research on attention, to set participants on differing, dual tasks to monitor the participants reactionary behaviour and then navigate and conclude which cognitive processes are required to complete a certain task, even if the attention is divided.  

Andrade however hypothesized that what if the act of doodling might actually aid concentration and attention, even if the aspect of boredom is overlooked which is correlated to daydreaming during tasks (due to boredom). Doodling may also help to maintain arousal for example giving you something physical to do while you think. It could raise arousal to help to keep you awake, if you are sleepy or reduce arousal if you are agitated because you are bored. 

Andrade defines “doodling” as the scribbling, sketching of patterns and figures that are unrelated to the task at hand. Such doodling either could take cognitive resources away from the intended task as if it played simultaneous demand on cognition by dividing simultaneous demand on cognition by dividing attention, or it could, as would be the case for the most concurrent cognitive tasks, improve task performance by raising arousal and enhancing focused attention on the task at hand. 



40 participants in total, all members of an Applied Psychology Unit.
From the University of Plymouth. 
The panel consisted of participants aged around a representative quota of 18-55. 
They were paid a small sum (monetary incentive) for taking pat in the study. 
Recruited via opportunity sampling - these participants were involved in a previous study prior to being involved in this one. The researchers asked if they could spare 5 minutes for this. 
The participants were divided into groups of 2 - 20 participants in each. 
There were predominantly females, with two males in the control group and 3 in the doodling group.

Research Method and Design:

This was a laboratory experiment, an unusual, controlled environment. Especially in terms of where a person would respond to telephonic messages. 
Because participants were in two groups, one being the doodling group and the other being the control group this was an Independent Measures Design study. 

Aim of the Study:

The study aimed to investigate and portray that doodling aids in concentration. (Which may help in tasks like retaining information during a telephone call.)


The participants were recruited after they had finished being in another study and were asked if they would be kind enough to spare a few minutes for these. 
The researchers’ aim was to enhance the boredom (when they already had been in a study hence enhancing fatigue effects).
This would affect their interest in the long, mundane call that was in no relation of relevance to their own lives. Gauging exactly how much information they would be able to retain. 
A telephone call was listened to on a dull telephone in a quiet and dull room.

They were previously told that they would be tested on the names of the people who were attending the party; this was known as the “monitoring task”. 
they also had an unexpected test with a big question on the names of the places mentioned; this was known as the recall task.
In order to reduce the effects of order effects, the sequencing of the questions of both the groups were different - counterbalancing the tests.
This meant that half the participants were asked to recall the names of the places mentioned and then the partygoers, and the others have recalled the names of the partygoers first and then the places mentioned.
These two tasks are the measures of the dependent variable or recall.
The operationalisation measures taken to operationalize the DVs:
- probable miss hearings, such as Greg for Craig were counted as correct.
- Other names that were mentioned on the tape but we’re not actually the partygoers were scored as false alarms.
- All other words relating to people such as “sister” were ignored.
- The final score for monitoring was the difference between the number of correct names and false alarms.
IV: Did the participants doodle or not? (Monitoring)
DV: The two groups were asked to recall: 
1. Monitoring : names of the particles.
2. Recalling: names of the places mentioned.
The mock telephone recording: 
The mock telephone recording lasted for a duration of 2 1/2 minutes and was recorded in the monotonous voice and an average speed of 227 words per minute (The slower rate of words per minute in Hanst boredom pushing the IV). 
It contained eight names of people attending the party, and the names of three people and one cat who could not attend. 
Eight players' names were also mentioned as well as irrelevant details.
Each participant then listen to the tape at a comfortable volume and paste and wrote down the names as they were instructed.
The experimenter documented and collected the response sheets, and then talked to the participants for around one minute which also included a debriefing session in which they apologized for misleading them about the memory test.
They then completed the surprise test of recalling names of the places then people or Vice versa.
There is also a set of materials used for the doodling group/condition which included: 
an A4 sheet which (for the doodling condition)
This A4 sheet had alternating rows of circles and squares which were 10 per row. 
A wide margin on the left was also present for recording the target information. 
The participants were also provided with a pencil and were told to shade in the squares and circles while listening to the tape.
They were specifically told it doesn’t matter how quickly you do this or how neatly- it is just something to alleviate the boredom. 
The control participants on the other hand, were provided with a sheet of regular lined paper to write their answers on.
All quantitative data.


In the doodling condition, the main number of shaded shapes, Was 36.6 with a range of 3-110.
In the control condition, the results indicated that nobody doodled spontaneously.
In the case for memory recall of names of the partygoers, the results were:
1. Control group (mean) = 7.1/8, With total false alarms amounting to: five.
2. Doodling group (mean) = 7.8/8, with a total false alarms amounting to: one.

Overall recall (mean): 
1. In the doodling condition, participants recalled 29% more than the control group participants.
2. With a mean of 7.5 names and places.
3. In the control condition, the participants recalled a mean of 5.8 names and places.
This indicated that the recall for both incidental and monitored information was significantly better for doodlers than in the control group, even when the participants who suspected a test were excluded.


The results of the study concluded, the doodling is concentration on the task at hand/the primary task as it was clearly indicated that participants who were placed in the doodling condition performed better than the participants who were placed in the control condition were basically just listening to the primary task with no concurrent task at hand.
However, because the doodling group were better on both the incidental and monitored information there are two possible explanations for this.
It was plausible that either; the participants who were placed in the doodling condition were more observant and receptive and thus noticed more of the target words. 
Or that doodling actually improves memory directly for example by encouraging deeper information processing.
However, without any operationalized measure of daydreaming it is difficult to distinguish between these two explanations. This could have been accomplished by asking the participants about daydreaming retrospectively via a self-report measure.
Furthermore or alternatively, a simultaneous brain scan could have objectively indicated whether doodling reduced the activation of the prefrontal cortex which is significantly linked with daydreaming. 
It was later concluded by the researcher herself that Participants who performed a shape shading task did concentrate better on a mock telephone message then the participants who were in the control group, who listened to the message with no monitoring of the performance/task and record task.
However, it was still unclear whether the doodling led to better memory recall because participants in the doodling condition happened to notice more of the target information or whether it actually did a memory recall by encouraging some deeper information processing of the telephonic message.

Strengths and Limitations:


The experimental design was the independent measures design with you which used a laboratory setting. This means that it was possible to control and monitor extraneous variables, for instance ensuring that the participants were listening at a comfortable volume and using a pre-recorded telephone message so that there were no differences in stress on the important words that were the target between conditions. 
This ensures reliability and lesser chances of participant variable.
It was also standardized in the sense that all the participants were prompted to be equally bored and therefore equally likely to daydream.
This was achieved by the monotonous quality of the recording which was accentuated using a dull and a quiet room as the setting. Furthermore, they were asked to perform the totality of this task when they were in the mindset of going home.  This increased the levels of potential boredom pushing the IV.
This provided clothes for the validity of the study/research. They could ensure that the differences in between the control condition and the doodling Watch due to the doodling.
Saudi there is increased reliability because all the participants in both the groups were similarly bored.
The sample was representative in the respect of age which was it being generalizable to the populations aged 18 to 55 years.
The collection of data was via an objective method which is asking to recall the number of names and places recalled (quantitative data). 
An ethical consolation was made, with participants debriefed about the nature of the study, and apologized to for misleading them about the unexpected test of recall.


The sample could have had bias in terms of:
1. The sample was gynocentric, having a majority of female participants. 
2. The sample recruited was from a particular panel from a particular university. The bias would come in with the people who would be on such panels, volunteering could be very similar for example having an interest in psychology - biasing the sample and lowering generalizability.
There was also a risk of participant variables confounding the results of the study, as the shapes the individuals had shaded on the A4 paper differed. 
However it may also be an effectively efficient strategy as no participants in the control condition doodled and and only one in the doodling condition actually didn’t.
There may also be a significant risk of demand characteristics, because some of the participants did suspect a memory test but they were roughly equal in each condition and did not actively try to remember so this is unlikely to have affected the validity of the study.
There was a lack of qualitative data which would’ve been useful if the participants would have been given self reports for any account of daydreaming as this would have added to explore whether the differential cause was memory or attention.
This would however violate certain ethical considerations as it would be deemed an invasion of privacy of the participants.
Speaking of ethical issues, this study was not able to fulfill the criteria of informed consent as they were given an unexpected test on place names, as well as the nature of the study.
This potentially could have made the participants distressed if they were unable to remember the names, exposing them to the risk of psychological harm.

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