The Effect of Detail on Controlled Retrieval Processes in Recollection Memory

by Nicola Small

Institution: University of Edinburgh
Year: 2012
Keywords: memory-for-foils; episodic memory
Record ID: 1403442
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1842/8537


The aim of this study was to further explore the basic mechanisms of the episodic memory search process. This included looking at the content of what was encoded and retrieved and the processes behind this encoding and retrieval. Some theories in the literature suggest that the LTM is more gist-based as item-specific information is lost soon after encoding, however, other theories have demonstrated that gist-based false recognition occurs because people are not retrieving the item-specific information effectively. The transfer appropriate processing theory explains that to successfully recall required information, retrieval processes need to match those of encoding. Jacoby and colleagues describe a retrieval process that involves constraining the memory search in such a way to re-enter the encoding context in order to retrieve the sought-for information. Using their memory-for-foils paradigm, this study investigates source-constrained retrieval using pictorial stimuli. It was hypothesised that for accurate recollection in phase 3, the retrieval search process needed to match the processes that occurred during encoding and thus, as the recognition task in the third phase of this experiment is an item-specific task, more foils that were encoded in the item-specific context, rather than the gist-based context, will be recollected. The findings show a non-significant difference between the foils that were recollected, resulting in a null effect. A possible reason behind this is that the participants did not engage in gist-based processing in the conceptual condition effectively and so, all foils were being processed similarly regardless of the phase 2 condition. However, participants did illustrate that they could adjust their responses to the task requirements and there was evidence of some changing between gist-based and item-specific recollection. There was a significant difference in task-order effect which has also been found in a study by Koutstaal and Cavendish (2006) which should be explored in future research.