Differential Fan Effect and Attentional Focus

By Sohn, Myeong-Ho; Anderson, John R. et al. | Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Differential Fan Effect and Attentional Focus


Sohn, Myeong-Ho, Anderson, John R., Reder, Lynne M., Goode, Adam, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review


As people study more facts about a concept, it takes longer to retrieve a particular fact about that concept. This fan effect (Anderson, 1974) has been attributed to competition among associations to a concept. Alternatively, the mental-model theory (Radvansky & Zacks, 1991) suggests that the fan effect disappears when the related concepts are organized into a single mental model. In the present study, attentional focus was manipulated to affect the mental model to be constructed. One group of participants focused on the person dimension of person-location pairs, whereas the other group focused on the location dimension. The result showed that the fan effect with the focused dimension was greater than the fan effect with the nonfocused dimension, which is contrary to the mental-model theory. The number of associations with a concept is indeed crucial during retrieval, and the importance of the information seems to be accentuated with attentional focus.

The fan effect refers to an increase in response time and/or error rates on a memory test with an increase in the number of competing associations to that memory probe. The associations to a concept were assumed to "fan" out of the concept node, hence the name. Since its first demonstration by Anderson (1974), the fan effect has been replicated in many different experimental paradigms with different types of stimuli (Lewis & Anderson, 1976; Reder & Ross, 1983;Zbrodoff, 1995). The assumptions underlying the account of the fan effect specify how and why retrieval processes interact with memory representations. Specifically, multiple facts linked to a concept in the probe will interfere with each other during retrieval because of limited cognitive resources allocated to the probe. As more associations are attached to the probe, the amount of activation that spreads down any path from the probe is reduced, requiring more time for a particular fact to be retrieved. Alternatively, however, there has emerged a competing view that emphasizes a representational account based on situation models (e.g., Radvansky & Zacks, 1991 ). In the present study, we seek to incorporate the different views of the fan effect and to test the predictions of these accounts.

In the fan paradigm, participants learn arbitrary associations between concepts (e.g., "Hippie-Park"). In the present study, participants memorized a set of 28 facts about people in locations. Figure 1 shows a basic network representation of some facts and their associated concepts. These facts are constructed so that one, two, or three facts are studied about each person and location. After committing these facts to memory, participants are tested on their ability to recognize person-location pairs previously studied (targets), and to reject novel combinations of the same people and locations (foils). The fan of a probe is the number of facts associated with the person and the location, and the reaction latency increases with the fan. The fan effect holds for both targets and foils, although sometimes the effect size varies (Anderson, 1976).

The present study is concerned with better understanding why the size of the fan effect for different dimensions of the stimuli (e.g., person vs. location) sometimes varies and what influences that variation. In some studies, the size of the fan effect is comparable for both dimensions (Anderson, 1974). However, some types of material have produced different size fan effects for different dimensions (Radvansky & Zacks, 1991 ), the phenomenon known as the differential fan effect. First, we will describe the mentalmodel theory that was initially proposed to explain the differential fan effect. second, we will describe the ACT-R theory, and how it differs from the mental-model theory.

According to mental-model theory, facts are organized into mental models when the material is studied. For example, when object-location pairs are studied (e.g., "The potted plant is in the hotel"), these associations should be organized into location-based mental models because a location can have many items in it, but an object can be in only one place at a time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Differential Fan Effect and Attentional Focus
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.