Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

The effects of increasing semantic-associate list length on the Deese-Roediger-McDermott false recognition memory: Dual false-memory process in retrieval from sub- and supraspan lists

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In this study, the number of semantic associates in Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) lists was varied from 4 to 14 in a modified Sternberg paradigm. The false alarm (FA) and correct rejection (CR) reaction time (RT)/memory-set size (MSS) functions of critical lures showed a cross-over interaction at approximately MSS 7, suggesting a reversal of the relative dominance between these two responses to the critical lure at this point and also indicating the location of the boundary between the sub- and supraspan MSS. For the subspan lists, FA to critical lures was slower than CR, suggesting a slow, strategic mechanism driving the false memory. Conversely, for the supraspan lists, critical lure FA was faster than its CR, suggesting a spontaneous mechanism driving the false memory. Results of two experiments showed that an automatic, fast, and a slow, controlled process could be error-prone or error-corrective, depending on the length of the DRM memory list. Thus there is a dual retrieval process in false memory as in true memory. The findings can be explained by both the activation/monitoring and the fuzzy-trace theories.


© 2017 Experimental Psychology Society.

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Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology