Television is "easy" and print is "tough": The differential investment of mental effort in learning as a function of perceptions and attributions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Addressed the question of how learners' a priori perceptions of message categories relate to their perceived self-efficacy in handling them, and how perceptions relate to the amount of invested mental effort (AIME) and learning. The AIME was defined as the number of nonautomatic mental elaborations applied to material and measured by learners' self-reports. It was hypothesized that in the absence of instructions, AIME expended in elaborating materials varies as a function of initial perceptions even when the material warrants otherwise. TV and print were considered categories for which children have general perceptions. 124 6th graders were tested for their perceptions of self-efficacy with print and TV, perceived media realism, and attributions of failure and success with each medium. Half the Ss viewed a silent film, while the other half read a comparable text. Measures of AIME and achievement were then taken. As expected, Ss felt more efficacious with TV, and perceived it as more realistic and easy. Print was reported to demand more effort, but led to better inference making. Efficacy correlated positively with AIME in print and negatively in TV. Discussion focuses on the roles of a priori perceptions and AIME in learning. (44 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-658
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • perceived self efficacy & attributions for success vs failure with TV vs printed material, investment of mental effort in learning, 6th graders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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