Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Part-List Cuing in Speeded Recognition and Free Recall

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Part-List Cuing in Speeded Recognition and Free Recall

Article excerpt

The primary question was whether part-list cuing decrements would occur in a speeded yes/no recognition task and free recall. After studying category exemplars, participants were tested either after re-presentation of a subset of the exemplars (cues) or without re-presentation. Free recall of all study items followed the recognition task in each trial. Across two experiments, results demonstrated part-list cuing impairment in two ways: significant slowing of target recognition and lower free recall of target items in cued than in uncued trials. These findings extend the limited research on part-list cuing in recognition and support retrieval inhibition and retrieval competition interpretations of the phenomenon. Moreover, despite arguments for the necessity of the presence of cues for part-list inhibition, the present experiments demonstrate that the negative effects of cues can persist in their absence.

On the basis of the assumption that words studied together are associated (see J. R. Anderson & Bower, 1973), presentation of a subset of study items at recall should facilitate recall of the remaining items. However, Slamecka (1968, 1969) has demonstrated that facilitation is not always the case; in fact, he found evidence that part-list cues impaired access to remaining items, relative to free recall of the same items. This finding of a part-list cuing impairment has since been replicated in an array of different encoding, cue, and retrieval conditions (see Nickerson, 1984, for a review). We further explored this phenomenon by introducing a unique methodology that allowed direct comparisons between common explanations of part-list cuing effects.

There are a variety of interpretations of part-list cuing (see Nickerson, 1984; Roediger & Neely, 1982), including strategy disruption (D. R. Basden & B. H. Basden, 1995; Reysen & Nairne, 2002), retrieval competition (Kimball & Bjork, 2002; Rundus, 1973), retrieval inhibition (M. C. Anderson, R. A. Bjork, & E. L. Bjork, 1994; Bäuml & Asian, 2004), and associative sampling bias, which is based on the quantitative search of associative memory model (Raaijmakers & Phaf, 1999; Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 1981). Because of the complexity of this model and the difficulty in making novel predictions (see Roediger & Neely, 1982), the sampling bias interpretation will not be discussed further.

The strategy disruption hypothesis posits that cuing with a random subset of list items may disrupt a more efficient retrieval strategy that otherwise would have been used (D. R. Basden & B. H. Basden, 1995; D. R. Basden, B. H. Basden, & Galloway, 1977). Under retrieval competition, presentation of part-list cues strengthens access to those items. At recall, the probability of retrieving re-presented items is higher than that of retrieving studied noncue items (Kimball & Bjork, 2002; Rundus, 1973). Finally, the retrieval inhibition hypothesis posits that covert cue retrieval suppresses activation to related items, as has been found with retrieval-induced forgetting (M. C. Anderson, E. L. Bjork, & R. A. Bjork, 2000; M. C. Anderson et al., 1994). (See Bäuml, 2002, and Bauml & Asian, 2004, for comparative analyses of part-list cuing and retrieval-induced forgetting.)

According to retrieval competition, part-list cuing inhibition is due to output interference (i.e., the deleterious effect of retrieving information on the subsequent retrieval of other information; see Smith, 1971) from the strengthening of the accessibility of cues, relative to noncues (Roediger, 1974). However, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that strengthening cannot solely account for part-set cuing inhibition (Bauml & Asian, 2004; Bäuml & Kuhbandner, 2003; Mueller & Watkins, 1977, Experiment 1; Roediger, 1978) and that retrieval inhibition might provide a better explanation of part-list cuing (Bauml & Asian, 2004).

To test the retrieval inhibition hypothesis, Bauml and Asian (2004) controlled output order after part-list relearning, cuing, or retrieving. …

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