Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Kelly Steelman

Committee Member 1

Myounghoon Jeon

Committee Member 2

Shari Stockero


The inclusion of interesting but irrelevant details in instructional materials may result in the seductive detail effect, in which the details interfere with learning, recall, and application of core material. Although numerous studies have documented this effect, questions remain about exactly when it occurs, as various factors moderate the effect (Rey, 2012b) and confounds make it difficult to interpret previous results (Goetz & Sadoski, 1995). Here, two studies examined the role of seductive detail interest level and the availability of learning objectives on performance, while controlling for possible confounds. Study 1 found no evidence for either an objective or seductive detail effect. Study 2, utilizing a revised set of seductive details, did demonstrate a seductive detail effect; however, contrary to expectations, the effect emerged only when learning objectives were available. These findings and the implications for developing meaningful guidelines for educators are discussed within the context of the larger literature.