Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Effects of Divided Attention at Study and Test on False Recognition: A Comparison of DRM and Categorized Lists

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Effects of Divided Attention at Study and Test on False Recognition: A Comparison of DRM and Categorized Lists

Article excerpt

Three experiments investigated the effects of divided attention at encoding and retrieval on false recognition. In Experiment 1, participants studied word lists in either full or divided attention (random number generation) conditions and then took part in a recognition test with full attention. In Experiment 2, after studying word lists with full attention, participants carried out a recognition test with either full or divided attention. Experiment 3 manipulated attention at both study and test. We also compared Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) and categorized lists, due to recent claims regarding the locus of false memories produced by such lists (Smith, Gerkens, Pierce, & Choi, 2002). With both list types, false "remember" responses were reduced by divided attention at encoding and increased by divided attention at retrieval. The findings suggest that the production of false memories occurs as a result of the generation of associates at encoding and failures of source monitoring retrieval. Crucially, this is true for both DRM and categorized lists.

Both the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) procedure (Deese, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995) and the category repetition procedure (Dewhurst & Anderson, 1999; Dewhurst & Farrand, 2004; Seamon, Luo, Schlegel, Greene, & Goldenberg, 2000) provide a means by which false memories can be created and studied in the laboratory. In both procedures, participants are presented with short word lists containing either semantic associates of a word not presented or members of semantic categories with highly typical exemplars not presented. Research has shown that the DRM and category repetition procedures both lead to false recognition errors that under some conditions are indistinguishable from correct recognition. This can be seen from research investigating participants' subjective experience of false recognition using the remember/know procedure (Gardiner, 1988;Tulving, 1985). Falsely recognized items are frequently labeled as remember (R) responses, based on conscious recollection, as opposed to know (K) responses, based on familiarity.

Findings from bom DRM and category repetition studies have been explained in terms of an activation-monitoring account developed by Roediger and McDermott (1995) based in part on Underwood's (1965) implicit-associativeresponse theory. Roediger and McDermott proposed mat false recognition occurs because participants generate associates of the studied items. For example, a participant may see the word hot at the encoding phase and spontaneously think of the associate cold. When presented with the lure cold at test, participants falsely label it as old. Roediger and McDermott claimed that the critical lures are activated at study and falsely recognized at test due to the failure to distinguish between internally generated and externally presented events (see Johnson, Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993).

A study by Smith, Gerkens, Pierce, and Choi (2002) compared the memory illusions created by the DRM and category repetition procedures. Smith et al. investigated whether the memory illusions are caused by processes that occur at encoding or by processes that occur at retrieval. They compared two hypotiieses that support either an encoding or a retrieval explanation for the false memory effect. The Kirkpatrick (1894) hypothesis, based on an early description of the effects of semantically related materials on false memory, states that false memories occur because of associative processes that take place when words are encoded. Smith et al. suggest that false memories created by DRM lists (which they term "associative lists") support me Kirkpatrick hypothesis. In contrast, me Deese hypothesis indicates that, since the recall or recognition of words at test activates associations to nonpresented items, false memory effects are due to associative processes occurring at retrieval. Smith et al. suggested that categorized lists produce false memories in line with the Deese hypothesis. …

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