Emotional and Cognitive Interest: How Creating Situational Interest Affects Learning With Multimedia


Situational interest is the positive affect and sustained attention triggered by particular contexts (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). Some studies show interesting information enhances learning while others find it hinders learning, producing the seductive detail effect. Limited evidence suggests the seductive detail effect is weakened if emotionally interesting information is relevant to main ideas. The present research shows the seductive detail effect occurs only under certain conditions. Harp and Mayer (1997) proposed that generating cognitive, rather than emotional, interest is more effective for improving learning by cueing relationships among concepts for easier processing. Hidi and Renninger (2006) argue distinguishing between the emotional and cognitive might be artificial. Present research found benefits from cognitive interest but no support as to whether cognitive interest is necessarily a distinct type of interest from emotional interest. There were some challenges with operationalizing cognitive interest, as well as validating strategies utilized to manipulate cognitive interest levels.

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