How Similar Are Recognition Memory and Inductive Reasoning?

By Hayes, Brett K.; Heit, Evan | Memory & Cognition, July 2013 | Go to article overview

How Similar Are Recognition Memory and Inductive Reasoning?


Hayes, Brett K., Heit, Evan, Memory & Cognition


Published online: 31 January 2013

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Abstract Conventionally, memory and reasoning are seen as different types of cognitive activities driven by different processes. In two experiments, we challenged this view by examining the relationship between recognition memory and inductive reasoning involving multiple forms of similarity. A common study set (members of a conjunctive category) was followed by a test set containing old and new category members, as well as items that matched the study set on only one dimension. The study and test sets were presented under recognition or induction instructions. In Experiments 1 and 2, the inductive property being generalized was varied in order to direct attention to different dimensions of similarity. When there was no time pressure on decisions, patterns of positive responding were strongly affected by property type, indicating that different types of similarity were driving recognition and induction. By comparison, speeded judgments showed weaker property effects and could be explained by generalization based on overall similarity. An exemplar model, GEN-EX (GENeralization from EXamples), could account for both the induction and recognition data. These findings show that induction and recognition share core component processes, even when the tasks involve flexible forms of similarity.

Keywords Inductive reasoning · Categorization · Recognition memory · Concepts · Computational modeling

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

In Principles of Psychology (1890), William James identified memory and reasoning as fundamental aspects of cognition. However, he treated them as separate components, with the coverage ofthe two topics appearing six chapters apart. Over a century later, cognitive psychology textbooks still treat mem- ory and reasoning in separate chapters, six chapters apart on average (Heit & Hayes, 2008). More formally, psychological models of memory (e.g., Hintzman, 1988; Shiffrin & Steyvers, 1997) have generally focused on the retrieval of past events rather than on how such events can be used to make predictions about the future. Likewise, models of inductive reasoning (e.g., Kemp & Tenenbaum, 2009; Osherson, Smith, Wilkie, & López, 1990; Sloman, 1993) have paid little atten- tion to the role of memory.

Some have previously attempted to bring the study of reasoning and memory closer together. Global memory mod- els have been used to predict how people both make probabi- listic judgments (e.g., Dougherty, Gettys, & Ogden, 1999) and abstract schema information from exemplars (e.g., Hintzman, 1986). Brainerd and Reyna's (1993, 2010) fuzzy trace theory has examined the overlap between memory and deductive reasoning, but with an emphasis on the functional dissocia- tions between judgments made in each task.

We have argued for an even closer relationship between memory and reasoning (Hayes, Fritz, & Heit, in press; Heit & Hayes, 2005, 2011; Heit, Rotello, & Hayes, 2012). In particular, there are close parallels between the ways that people use previously studied instances to decide whether a novel probe has been seen before (i.e., recognition) and whether the properties of familiar instances generalize to the probe (i.e., inductive reasoning). In each case, probe presentation is likely to cue the retrieval of a sample of previously experienced instances and to involve a similarity comparison between the probe and sample. Where the tasks are likely to differ is in their thresholds for responding. A positive recognition response is likely to require a high level of similarity between the study and test items. In contrast, an inductive inference that a property generalizes from a famil- iar base to a test item is likely to require a lower similarity threshold.

This account has been supported by recent experimentation and modeling. Heit and Hayes (2011) presented study instan- ces under recognition ("memorize these items") or induction ("all of these items have 'beta cells' ") instructions. …

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