The Influence of Topic Interest, Prior Knowledge, and Cognitive Capabilities on Text Comprehension [chapter]

U. Schiefele
1990 Recent Research in Psychology  
The present study investigated the influence of topic interest on the comprehension of texts. The primary goals of the study were as follows: (1) to formulate a new definition of the concept "topic interest", (2) to control for cognitive capabilities (intelligence, short-term memory) and prior knowledge, and (3) to assess different levels of comprehension. A total of 53 male students, majoring in computer science, took part in the study. Subjects were presented with a text on "Psychology of
more » ... "Psychology of Emotion". Prior to reading the text, they were asked to indicate their level of interest in the topic. After reading the text, subjects were given a test of comprehension involving open-ended questions. The questions were designed to represent different levels of comprehension. The results show that the effect of topic interest on text comprehension is especially pronounced when a deeper level of understanding is required. Surprisingly, prior knowledge had no effect on the level of comprehension. Verbal intelligence, on the other hand, showed a clear effect on comprehension, especially in answering questions of simple knowledge. The effects of interest and verbal intelligence could be shown to be independent of one another.
doi:10.1007/978-3-642-84256-6_25 fatcat:r473qsdto5fanmx2mou454wki4