Source-Monitoring Judgments about Anagrams and Their Solutions: Evidence for the Role of Cognitive Operations Information in Memory

By Foley, Mary Ann; Foley, Hugh J. | Memory & Cognition, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Source-Monitoring Judgments about Anagrams and Their Solutions: Evidence for the Role of Cognitive Operations Information in Memory


Foley, Mary Ann, Foley, Hugh J., Memory & Cognition


Generating solutions to anagrams leads to a memory advantage for those solutions, with generated words remembered better than words simply read. However, an additional advantage is not typically found for solutions to difficult anagrams relative to solutions to easy ones, presenting a challenge for the cognitive effort explanation of the generation effect. In the present series of experiments, the effect of manipulating anagram difficulty is explored further by introducing two new source-monitoring judgments. These studies demonstrate that when attention is directed at test to the operations activated during encoding (by way of source-monitoring judgments focused on solving vs. constructing anagrams), a source advantage is observed for difficult anagrams. However, when attention is directed to the anagrams themselves, asking participants to remember the kinds of anagrams generated or solved (based on kind of rule rather than subjective impressions of difficulty), a similar source advantage is not observed. The present studies bring a new perspective to the investigation of difficulty manipulations on memory for problem solving by illustrating the impact of a shift in focus from the effort mediating cognitive operations to specifics about the cognitive operations themselves.

The beneficial effect of involving individuals (whether participants in experiments or students in classes) in the creation of materials to be remembered has long been recognized in both theoretical (Johnson, Raye, Foley, & Foley, 1981; Mulligan, 2001; Slamecka & Graf, 1978; Taconnat & Isingrini, 2004) and educational contexts (deWinstanley, 1995; Ross & Balzer, 1975; Ross & Killey, 1977). In a prototypical study investigating the enhancing effects of involvement, participants generate words in response to prompts presented by another person (e.g., an experimenter or partner). On subsequent memory tests, the materials one has generated are often better recognized or recalled than are nongenerated control materials (Johnson et al., 1981; Slamecka & Graf, 1978), and these self-generated materials are also identified as such in source-monitoring judgments (e.g., Johnson et al., 1981, Experiment 1). Thus, this memory advantage for self-generated information, referred to by Slamecka and Graf (1978) as the generation effect, is observed for both item and source memory. Although it is intuitively reasonable to expect additional memory advantages for more difficult generative acts, this expectation is often not confirmed (Foley, Foley, Wilder, & Rusch, 1989; McNamara & Healy, 2000; Zacks, Hasher, Sanft, & Rose, 1983). The purpose of the present series of studies is to explore the conditions under which additional memory advantages might be observed for difficult versions of problems.

Generation effects are observed across a variety of materials, test conditions, and retention intervals (e.g., Foley, Foley, Durley, & Maitner, 2006; Foley & Ratner, 1998;Greene, 1992; Johnson et al., 1981; Mulligan, 2001, 2002, 2004). Advantages in item memory follow the use of several kinds of encoding rules defining the basis for generating items, including requests to produce antonyms, category instances, or unrelated words (Johnson et al., 1981; Mulligan, 2001; Rabinowitz, 1989; Slamecka & Graf, 1978), requests to solve anagrams (Foley et al., 1989), requests to solve numerical problems (McNamara & Healy, 1995), and requests to identify incomplete pictures (Kinjo & Snodgrass, 2000). Frequently reported for explicit memory tasks (Glisky & Rabinowitz, 1985; Hirshman & Bjork, 1988; McElroy & Slamecka, 1982), the advantage is evident for some implicit tasks as well (e.g., Blaxton, 1989; Srinivas & Roediger, 1990, Experiment 1) and is maintained over relatively long retention intervals for both item memory (7 days; Gardiner, Ramponi, & Richardson-Klavehn, 1999, Experiment 2) and source memory (10 days; Johnson et al. …

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