The decorative images’ seductive effect in e-learning depends on attentional inhibition

Federico Martín González, Gastón Saux, Debora Burin


Two studies sought to replicate and extend the seductive effect of decorative pictures in expository text comprehension to an e-learning environment. In the first study, undergraduate students read and answered questions about two texts, with and without decorative, irrelevant images, in an e-learning course. The presence of decorative images had a small detrimental effect on comprehension. In the second study, participants read more difficult texts (low prior knowledge texts in multiple screens) and completed working memory and inhibitory ability tests. A significant interaction between comprehension and perceptual/attentional inhibitory ability was found: Participants with lower inhibitory capacity were affected by irrelevant pictures. In conclusion, evidence supported the hypothesis of a detrimental effect of irrelevant, decorative images on comprehension in e-learning, particularly for students with low attentional inhibition.


e-learning; reading comprehension; seductive details; attention

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