Can “you” make a difference? Investigating whether perspective-taking improves performance on inconsistent mathematical word problems

Björn B. de Koning*, Menno van der Schoot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Pronouns encouraging a second-person perspective (e.g., “you/your”) affect peoples' mental representations constructed while reading and improve learning. The present study applied these insights to a domain in that such pronoun effects have yet been unexplored: mathematical word problem solving. Specifically, we encouraged a second-person perspective (using “your”) in an attempt to reduce the consistency effect, that is, the finding that more errors are made on word problems containing a relational keyword inconsistent rather than consistent with the required arithmetic operation. Primary school children solved consistent and inconsistent word problems (containing the relational keywords “less than”) presented in third-person (i.e., store name) or second-person (“your store”) perspective. Results demonstrated the consistency effect, but the perspective manipulation did not produce significant differences between conditions, that is, a second-person perspective did not reduce the consistency effect. These findings suggest that reducing the consistency effect may require a less subtle approach than using personalized pronouns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-917
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Volume33
Issue number5
Early online date8 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • consistency effect
  • personalization effect
  • primary education
  • reading comprehension
  • word problem solving

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