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Conscious Cogn. 2015 Dec;37:91-102. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.08.008. Epub 2015 Sep 2.

Answers at your fingertips: Access to the Internet influences willingness to answer questions.

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Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Canada.
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Canada. Electronic address:


Recent technological advances have given rise to an information-gathering tool unparalleled by any in human history-the Internet. Understanding how access to such a powerful informational tool influences how we think represents an important question for psychological science. In the present investigation we examined the impact of access to the Internet on the metacognitive processes that govern our decisions about what we "know" and "don't know." Results demonstrated that access to the Internet influenced individuals' willingness to volunteer answers, which led to fewer correct answers overall but greater accuracy when an answer was offered. Critically, access to the Internet also influenced feeling-of-knowing, and this accounted for some (but not all) of the effect on willingness to volunteer answers. These findings demonstrate that access to the Internet can influence metacognitive processes, and contribute novel insights into the operation of the transactive memory system formed by people and the Internet.


Memory performance; Metacognition; Transactive memory

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