Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Pairs Do Not Suffer Interference from Other Types of Pairs or Single Items in Associative Recognition

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Pairs Do Not Suffer Interference from Other Types of Pairs or Single Items in Associative Recognition

Article excerpt

What is the source of interference on a memory test following study of a list containing different types of pairs? Many current models predict that pairs and singles of all types will jointly interfere and therefore harm memory. Such list length effects have often been observed for lists of a single-item type (e.g., a list of words). Here, we examine interference for lists containing multiple types of pairs (e.g., word-word, face-face, word-face). In three experiments, we manipulate the number of each type on the study list. In associative recognition, discrimination fell as the number of pairs of the same type rose, but the number of pairs of other types had little effect. That is, we found a list length effect within, but not between, classes of stimuli. We highlight the importance of representation and propose alternatives to current model representations that can predict such findings.

The meaning of the word jam in the pair strawberry jam clearly differs from its meaning in the pair traffic jam. Indeed, research has shown that memory for an item is a function of the match between the semantic context at study and that at test (Light & Carter-Sobell, 1970; Tulving & Thompson, 1973). Related to this principle is the possibility that study of word pairs, even for unrelated words, might induce configural meaning that goes beyond and may be independent of the meaning of the constituent words in isolation (see Clark & Gronlund, 1996, for a review of the independence hypothesis). Evidence for configural processing of unrelated word pairs comes from Dosher and Rosedale (1997), who found cuing advantages for triples only when all three components were studied together. Furthermore, Hockley (1992) showed that singles and pairs have different forgetting functions, and Hockley and Cristi (1996a) showed that item memory and associative memory are differentially affected by instructional manipulations.

In this article, we continue to explore configural processing by examining the effects of such processing on interference during retrieval. For example, word pairs as a class might tend to be dissimilar from single words as a class, hence reducing cross-class memory interference. Similarly, the class of word-face pairs might be dissimilar from the class of word-word pairs, and so forth. Few studies have looked at length effects that cross item-type boundaries. Gillund and Shiffrin (1981) found that the number of studied pictures affected word recall and vice versa. However, the array of strategies used in free recall makes it difficult to come to definitive conclusions concerning the source of interference effects.

Hockley and Cristi (1996b) had participants study single items and/or pairs that were repeated various numbers of times and in various combinations. In different experiments, a single item could be repeated as both a single and as part of a pair, only as part of a pair, or as part of several different pairs. In general, participants were able to judge the frequency of single items and of pairs. Critically, they were able to make separate judgments of the frequency of an item studied alone and the same item studied in a pair. Despite participants' ability to make fairly independent judgments of frequency, more traditional memory tasks may show interference. That is, singles and pairs stored in memory may be retrieved during a traditional memory task even if participants are able to focus on a subset when instructed to do so.

In the present experiments, we gathered additional evidence regarding whether the retrieval of associations is affected by the number of single items on the study list and whether the retrieval of pairs or items from one class is affected by the number of pairs or items from another class. Specifically, we used a modified list length manipulation to measure interference between and within different classes of pair types for both single-item recognition (SR) and associative recognition (AR). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.