Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Familiarity from Orthographic Information: Extensions of the Recognition without Identification Effect

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Familiarity from Orthographic Information: Extensions of the Recognition without Identification Effect

Article excerpt

Two experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of letter location information in recognition memory judgments. The experiments used the recognition without identification paradigm (Peynircioglu, 1990), in which participants first attempt to identify the test item and then make a recognition decision as to whether or not the item was studied. In these studies, items that are not identified but that correspond to items that were presented are typically still rated as more likely to have been studied than those that were not presented. The present experiments demonstrated this finding with a variant of the conjunction lure paradigm. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were tested with word fragments that were made from the letters of two words. When the letters were from studied items, fragments were rated higher than when the test items were derived from two unstudied items, or one studied item and one unstudied item, suggesting that recognition without identification is prone to the same types of errors as recognition with identification. Results are discussed in terms of familiarity effects in recognition memory.

When reviewing the results of recognition memory experiments, a common finding is performance well above chance in situations that one might predict would lead to poor memory performance. Accurate recognition memory has been found even when the number of stimuli to be remembered is very large (e.g., Shepard, 1967; Standing, 1973), the amount of time between study and test is very long (e.g., Bahrick, 1984; Bahrick, Bahrick, & Wittlinger, 1975; Bahrick & Phelps, 1987; Kolers, 1976; Squire, 1989), and encoding times are very brief (e.g., Intraub, 1980). In contrast to recall, recognition memory declines little with age (e.g., Craik & McDowd, 1987; Park, Puglisi, & Smith, 1986; Rabinowitz, 1984; Smith, 1977), and is unaffected by divided attention tasks (e.g., Craik, Govoni, Naveh-Benjamin, & Anderson, 1996). Perhaps an even more impressive testament to the resiliency of recognition memory, however, is that participants can discriminate between studied and novel words that cannot be identified, a finding that has been termed recognition without identification (Cleary, 2002,2004; Cleary & Greene, 2000,2001 ; Peynircioglu, 1990).

In experiments that have demonstrated recognition without identification, participants first study a list of words and are later given a word-fragment completion task that includes words from the study list, as well as new words. Participants are instructed to try to complete the fragment and then give a recognition rating for the stimulus on a Likert scale, whether or not they were able to solve the word fragment. Surprisingly, even when fragments cannot be solved, fragments of studied words are given higher recognition ratings than fragments of unstudied words. Such a finding is of interest, because it suggests that participants can discriminate between studied and unstudied items that they cannot complete.

Because recognition memory judgments are assumed to be based largely on the familiarity of the test items, recognition without identification has been attributed to an enhanced sense of familiarity for the fragments of studied words compared with the fragments of unstudied words (Peynircioglu, 1990). An explanation based on enhanced familiarity has been favored over other possible explanations, such as participants' recollection of the study list, because the recognition without identification effect is not found with list discrimination and associative recognition (Cleary & Greene, 2001 ; see also Cleary & Greene, 2005), tasks that are thought to be based primarily on recollection (e.g., Clark & Burchett, 1994; Westerman, 2001; Yonelinas, 1997). The enhanced familiarity for the fragments of unidentified old words does not appear to be due to perceptual overlap between studied words and their word fragments, as recognition without identification has been found even when the sensory modality of the words is changed between study and test and when the case of the letters (i. …

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