Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The purpose of the present research was to investigate the effects of self referencing in the processing of linear ordering relations in a task designed to simulate certain aspects of classroom mathematics instruction. In each of three experiments, undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology course were asked to read a series of paragraphs each of which contained a 5-term linear ordering relation (e.g., {dollar}\rm A>B>C>D>E).{dollar} After this information was encoded, subjects were asked to make pair-wise comparisons of these 5 terms. Two major factors were tested: the inclusion of a "You" term (Self-Referencing) among the 5 terms, and the position of the "You" term (Position of Self-Referencing) in the ordering. In Experiment 1, the "You" term was placed at three positions: first, third and fifth. Experiment 2 extended the investigation to all five positions. Experiment 3 was designed to replicate the findings from the previous two experiments and to increase the power of statistical tests of the Self-Referencing effect. The results of all three experiments were consistent. Self-Referencing did not result in a difference in overall performance. However, the Position effect and the interaction of Self-Referencing with other variables demonstrated that self-referencing had a strong impact on cognitive processing. When the "You" term was included, subjects appeared to use it as a focus in organizing information, and the further away this self-focus point was from the endpoints, the worse performance became. When test questions were related to the self, reaction times were shorter, whereas when questions did not involve a self term, reaction times were slower. The endpoint effect and the distance effect reported in previous research were also tested. It was found that when the "You" term was included in various positions in the linear ordering, the endpoint effect changed accordingly. The distance effect was not evident in the present research. Implications for educational and cognitive research were discussed.



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