Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Strength-Based Mirror Effects in Item and Associative Recognition: Evidence for Within-List Criterion Changes

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Strength-Based Mirror Effects in Item and Associative Recognition: Evidence for Within-List Criterion Changes

Article excerpt

Strength-based mirror effects occur when the hit rate is higher and the false alarm rate is lower following strongly encoded study lists than when following more weakly encoded study lists. In Experiments 1A and 1B, strength-based mirror effects were observed in separate tests of single item and associative recognition for random word pairs. In Experiment 2, strength-based mirror effects were again seen when item and associative recognition were tested together. Finally, in Experiments 3 and 4, opposing strength-based mirror effects were observed for item and associative recognition when individual words and word pairs were presented at different rates in the same study lists. Strength-based mirror effects could result from participants' adopting a more conservative decision criterion following strong lists than following weak ones. If this is the case for both item and associative recognition, the present results demonstrate that subjects can adopt different response criteria for different recognition tasks and can alternate between them on a trial-by-trial basis.

Glanzer and Adams (1985, 1990) showed that the mirror effect is a prevalent feature of recognition memory performance. This effect describes the relationship between hit and false alarm rates across two conditions that differ in terms of their level of discrimination or overall accuracy. More specifically, the hit rate is higher and the false alarm rate is lower in me more accurate condition than in the less accurate condition. In other words, me false alarm rates mirror the order of the hit rates. Two general types of manipulations give rise to the mirror effect. One involves comparing incrimination for different classes or types of stimuli that differ in memorability, and the other involves differentially strengthening one set of study items, relative to another set.

Stimulus-Based Versus Strength-Based Mirror Effects

A variety of stimulus manipulations give rise to the mirror effect (Glanzer & Adams, 1985). The prototypical example is word frequency: Low-frequency words are usually associated with a higher hit rate and a lower false alarm rate than are high-frequency words in typical tests of yes-no and forced choice recognition (e.g., Glanzer & Adams, 1990; but see Criss & Shiffrin, 2004a, regarding the role of encoding on the generality of the word frequency mirror effect). Another way to produce a mirror pattern involves between-list manipulations of stimulus strength. The hit rate is higher and the false alarm rate is lower for studied items that were presented more often or more slowly than for items that were presented less often or at a faster rate at study (e.g., Cary & Reder, 2003; Murnane & Shiffrin, 1991; Stretch & Wixted, 1998).

Glanzer and Adams's (1985) meta-analysis demonstrating the regularity of stimulus-based mirror effects motivated the development of a number of new theoretical accounts of recognition memory (e.g., Dennis & Humphreys, 2001; Glanzer & Adams, 1990; Joordens & Hockley, 2000; Malmberg, Holden, & Shiffrin, 2004; McClelland & Chappell, 1998; Reder et al., 2000; Shiffrin & Steyvers, 1997). The challenge provided by stimulusbased mirror effects, in signal detection theory (SDT) terms, was to explain why the order of the underlying distributions on the strength-of-evidence axis changes when the different classes of stimuli are old, as compared with when they are new-that is, why the weakest items, when new, become the strongest items, when old. Murdock (2003) has termed this a "leapfrog" effect because the weakest items (low-frequency new items) jump over stronger items (high-frequency new words) to be better remembered at test after a study presentation.

Stretch and Wixted (1998) distinguished between two different SDT-based explanations of the mirror effect. In Type I, or criterion shift, accounts, subjects adopt a more conservative decision criterion for items in the more memorable condition and a more liberal criterion for items in the less memorable condition, thereby producing a higher false alarm rate in the less memorable condition. …

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