How are curious people affected by seductive details in written texts? : exploring the various relationships among curiosity, the seductive details effect, and learning outcomes
Hansen, Edward James
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Seductive details are pieces of information in educational texts that are irrelevant to the most important content of the educational material. Although it may seem logical to include such details to get readers interested in a subject, the presence of seductive details in educational texts has consistently been shown to decrease learning outcomes. This negative effect on learning is referred to in the literature as the seductive details effect. The current experiment proposed hypotheses that would refine conventional seductive detail research in three ways. First, this study investigated whether people with high amounts of specific or diversive curiosity may be affected differently by the presence of seductive details than the general population, but these hypotheses received mixed support. While neither specific nor diversive curiosity affected seductive details' influence on learning outcomes, curiosity and the presence of seductive details did have some impact on participants' cognitive and emotional interest. Second, this study hypothesized that readings with seductive details might increase motivation (or continued interest) to seek out new information about a subject. No support was found for these hypotheses, and some data suggested that the presence of seductive details may actually decrease continued interest. Lastly, a third condition was tested where seductive details were presented as introductory materials rather than as part of the actual text. This study hypothesized that introductory seductive details would not be as detrimental to learning as when the details are embedded in the text, but, again, this hypothesis was not supported. Overall, this research replicated previous work on the negative effects of seductive details on learning, but the inclusion of curiosity and its implications in future research are presented as well.