Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The Production Effect in Long-List Recall: In No Particular Order?

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The Production Effect in Long-List Recall: In No Particular Order?

Article excerpt

Hopkins and Edwards (1972) were the first to report higher recognition scores for words studied aloud relative to words studied silently. This effect was largely overlooked until MacLeod, Gopie, Hourihan, Neary, and Ozubko (2010) reintroduced it and labelled it the production effect. The production effect has since been achieved through various modes of production, including mouthing, spelling, typing, or writing words (e.g., Forrin, MacLeod, & Ozubko, 2012). MacLeod et al. attributed the production effect to an increase in the distinctiveness of aloud items relative to silent items in memory (see also Conway & Gathercole, 1987). The distinctiveness account proposes that the operations required to produce items form part of their encoding (e.g., Kolers & Roediger, 1984), and memory for those operations can later facilitate item retrieval. Yet the characterization of how aloud words benefit from this extra distinctiveness has varied.

According to a relative distinctiveness account, words studied aloud are easier to recollect at test by virtue of their distinctiveness in memory relative to the silent words. Hunt (2006) noted that the shared similarity of the nondistinct items allows distinct items to stand out as relatively unique. By this account some items must be studied in a nondistinctive manner for a distinctiveness effect to emerge. Therefore, this account predicts that a production effect should occur only when aloud and silent items are both part of the same study list (i.e., a mixed-list or within-subject design). Most of the early research on the production effect appeared to support this account (Hopkins & Edwards, 1972; MacLeod et al., 2010; cf. Gathercole & Conway, 1988).

An alternative view is that participants adopt a distinctivenessbased strategy during test, which enhances memory for produced items. The distinctiveness strategy account suggests that participants form and apply an explicit "heuristic" at test based on whether they can recollect distinctive item attributes (Dodson & Schacter, 2001). Specifically, participants apply a rule by which "if I can remember saying the word aloud then I must have studied it. If I cannot remember saying the word aloud then I must not have studied it." This strategy may be more obvious to participants who study a mixed list than a pure-aloud list, but nothing prevents participants from adopting this strategy in the pure-aloud case. Consistent with this account, Fawcett's (2013) meta-analysis revealed that a pure-list effect does occur in recognition after all; several replications have since been reported (Bodner, Taikh, & Fawcett, 2014; Forrin, Groot, & MacLeod, 2016; Taikh & Bodner, in press). That the effect is often larger in mixed lists than in pure lists is consistent with use of this strategy being more apparent after studying a mixed list (e.g., Forrin et al., 2016; cf. Bodner, Jamieson, Cormack, McDonald, & Bernstein, in press).

Statistical distinctiveness can also influence the production effect (Icht, Mama, & Algom, 2014). This term refers to the notion that memory will benefit more from encoding strategies when they are performed on a smaller proportion of the study items, thus rendering those items more distinctive in memory. For example, Icht et al. found that the production effect increased when 20% (vs. 50%) of list items were studied aloud. Indeed, when 80% were studied aloud, they found that the production effect reversed (cf. Bodner et al., in press). Although statistical distinctiveness can influence the production effect, it is not a relevant consideration in recall studies, including ours, where the ratio of silent to aloud items at study is 50/50.

Another type of account has also been considered, albeit more cursorily. The strength account proposes that the act of saying a word aloud at study simply increases the strength of the memory representation for that word. Admittedly, the strength account has not been well described in the literature. …

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