The Effect of False Context in a Prospective Memory Task
Prospective memory, or remembering to perform an action in the future, can benefit from contextual information about one's current location relative to a location where the prospective memory task can be performed. Context has been shown to help participants more efficiently allocate their attentional resources by only engaging those resources when required by the PM task. The current study builds upon previous studies that featured context by introducing false context, which is inaccurate contextual information that was predicted to reduce PM performance. The current study compared performance between five conditions; Control, PM context, PM false context early, PM false context late, and PM no context. The control condition only performed the ongoing task, and the PM conditions performed both the ongoing and PM tasks. The PM context condition was given information about where the PM target would occur, the false context conditions were given false information about where the PM target would occur (the actual target either appeared earlier or later than anticipated), and the PM no context condition was not given any information about the location of the PM target. As expected, PM performance was worse for the false context conditions compared to both PM context and PM no context conditions, because the participants were not allocating as many resources towards the PM task when they encountered the PM target.