Because numerous studies have shown that feelings of encoding fluency are positively correlated with judgments of learning, a single dominant heuristic, easily learned = easily remembered (ELER), has been posited to explain how people interpret encoding fluency when assessing their own memory. However, the inferences people draw from feelings of encoding fluency may vary with their beliefs about why information is easy or effortful to encode. We conducted two experiments in which participants studied word lists and then predicted their future recall of those items. Results revealed that subjects who viewed intelligence as fixed, and who tended to interpret effortful encoding as indicating that they had reached the limits of their ability, used the ELER heuristic to make judgments of learning. However, subjects who viewed intelligence as malleable, and who tended to interpret effortful encoding as indicating greater engagement in learning, did not use the ELER heuristic and at times predicted greater memory for items that they found more effortful to learn.
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