RESEARCH AREAS

With near-constant access to information and communication technologies, there are myriad ways in which users can strategically engage memory to successfully accommodate the demands of a particular task and there are new variables that shape the actions users take to meet those demands. New media are not supplanting human memory, but rather diversifying memory. In doing so, it poses new coordination demands on the media user. A major goal of my research involves understanding how media users make strategic decisions in service of their memory goals, such as how various memory strategies and techniques made possible by new media influence short- and long- term goals, how media users monitor and control the state of the extended cognitive system in pursuit of various goals, and how certain technological biases can impair these monitoring and control processes.

On-going projects:

  • Hamilton, K. A.*, Siler, J.*, & Benjamin, A.S. Have you tried Googling it? When internet search enhances memory.
  • Siler, J., Hamilton, K. A., & Benjamin, A.S. Did you look that up? Source memory for smartphones.
  • Hamilton, K. A., Siler, J., & Benjamin, A. S. Using the internet “raises the bar” for precision in self-produced question answering.

A media user can take advantage of the strategies and techniques made possible by technology to the extent that they can accurately monitor the state of their knowledge and exercise careful control over the many strategies available to them. A second area of my research seeks to understand how characteristics of media devices influence the ability to make accurate judgments about what one believes they know (i.e., metacognition). Many characteristics of media technology—speed of access (Hamilton, in preparation), anthropomorphic cues (Hamilton, Ward, & Yao, in preparation), degree of organization (Hamilton, McIntyre, & Hertel, 2016), familiarity and ownership (Hamilton & Yao, 2018)—impair the ability to make accurate metacognitive judgments. My dissertation ties my findings in this area together to illuminate known technological factors that lead to faulty metacognitive monitoring, and subsequent maladaptive memory decisions.

On-going projects:

  • Hamilton, K. A., Ward, A. F., & Yao, M. Z. Mind or Machine? Exploring the role of anthropomorphism on illusions of knowledge from technology use.
  • Hamilton, K. A. The accessibility heuristic: Implications of immediate access to digital memory on metacognitive evaluations.

Much of my curiosity stems from understanding unique possibilities for action through emerging media that pose new consequences for the ability to make sound decisions. A third area of my work examines the effects of technological elements on decision making in various applied domains, such as advertising and cyber-security. One project, for example, brings attention to self-endorsement— a novel advertising strategy that harnesses the features of new media to depict a consumer themselves as the endorser of a brand (Hamilton, Lee, Chung, Liu, & Duff, 2019). Another project investigates how a person’s learning process is influence when they believe they are under surveillance, which is motivated by applications in cyber security and targeted advertising (Miehling*, Hamilton*, Dong, Jin, Yao, Langbort & Başar, in progress). My goal in this area of research is to demonstrate novel media practices that pose new challenges for media users, which will require those users to develop more sophisticated tools for assessing their decisions about when and how to use technology to accomplish their goals.

On-going projects:

  • Hamilton, K. A., Lee, S., Chung, U., Liu, W., & Duff, B. L. R. Putting the “me” in endorsement: Understanding and conceptualizing dimensions of self-endorsement using intelligent personal assistants. New Media & Society.
  • Miehling, E.*, Hamilton, K.A.*, Dong, R., Jin, X., Yao, M.Z., Langbort, C., & Başar, T. Learning under surveillance: When “learning” less is more.

Many features of information and communication technologies (ICTs)—GPS, data storage, and information retrieval—are used regularly to accomplish intellectual and behavioral goals in daily life. In such a theoretical perspective, much of what we think of as “memory” in a digital ecology is the product of an integrative system of internal (i.e., in the “brain”) and external (i.e., outside the “brain”) cognitive processes that are selected to meet the demands of a particular cognitive task. My on-going research goal is to present an adaptive perspective of human memory and cognition that serves as a guiding framework in understanding the successes and failures of memory in a digital ecology. The perspective forwarded intends to be directly applicable to research investigating dimensions of memory skill in the context of media use, such as making strategic decisions about encoding information, executing control processes, rendering information accessible when information is needed. For a brief commentary that I wrote (in collaboration with Aaron Benjamin) as background to this perspective, check out this post-print.

On-going projects:

  • Hamilton, K.A. Effect of offloading tendency on calibration of future metacognitive monitoring.
  • Hamilton, K.A. Investigating the effects of cognitive offloading to digital media on downstream generalization.
  • Hamilton, K.A. Understanding the costs and benefits of digital memory retrieval as a function of cue effectiveness.