I wanted to test a persons expectation Vs. memory. To put it simply, I want to see whether or not a person will remember more information when told they have a larger/smaller amount of information to consume and reiterate. I haven't been able to find any studies done on the topic so far. Does anyone know how I could rephrase this to get a more narrow search result?

So far I've been searching for Expectation vs. Memory, and have been getting studies that focus on a persons expectation in a different sense...

  • $\begingroup$ Would "priming" be a useful keyword here? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 21:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AliceD "priming" is usually used to refer to implicit memory research. The OP seems to be interested in something else, I think he/she is interested in how telling people about the size of information they should memorize would affect their performance in memory tests. $\endgroup$
    – Ehsan88
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


The relevant concepts are set size and span. The set size is usually the amount of items to be remembered in a memory task, but technically only refers to the amount of information that must be held in (working) memory to complete the memory task at hand, while the span is the amount actually remembered. With this in mind, your topic can be stated as being about whether expectations for set size affect memory span.

I am not aware of any studies directly investigating this. Look into the executive function/control literature, because any effect from expectations for set size on memory span will almost by definition involve some form of executive control. I can think of a number of theoretical possibilities, so I would be very interested to read a follow-up question that you answered yourself.


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