Cognitive load eliminates the effect of perceptual information on judgments of learning with sentences
Items presented in large font are rated with higher judgments of learning (JOLs) than those presented in small font. According to current explanations of this phenomenon in terms of processing fluency or implicit beliefs, this effect should be present no matter the type of material under study. However, we hypothesized that the linguistic cues present in sentences may prevent using font size as a cue for JOLs. Experiment 1, with short sentences, showed the standard font-size effect on JOLs, and Experiment 2, with pairs of longer sentences, showed a reduced effect. These results suggest that linguistic factors do not prevent font size from being used for JOLs. However, Experiment 3, with both short and long sentences, showed an effect of font size only for the former and not the latter condition, suggesting that the greater amount of to-be-remembered information eliminated the font-size effect. In Experiment 4, we tested a mechanism to explain this result and manipulated cognitive load using the dot-memory task. The short sentences from Experiments 1 and 3 were used, and the results replicated the font-size effect only in the low-cognitive load condition. Our results are consistent with the idea that perceptual information is used to make JOLs only with materials such as words, word pairs, or short sentences, and that the increased cognitive load required to process longer sentences prevents using font size as a cue for JOLs.