, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 249-260

False recognition across meaning, language, and stimulus format: Conceptual relatedness and the feeling of familiarity

Abstract

Four experiments examined contributions of conceptual relatedness and feelings of familiarity to false recognition. Participants first studied lists of unrelated items (e.g., table, lock) followed by a recognition test with three types of items: (1) studied items (e.g., table), (2) semantically related lures (e.g., key), and (3) unrelated lures (e.g., cup). Participants falsely recognized more related than unrelated lures when the stimuli were words (Experiment 1A) and pictures (Experiment 1B), when the studied items and related lures differed in language (Experiment 2), and when they differed in perceptual format (Experiment 3). In Experiment 4, an attribution manipulation, designed to make feelings of familiarity nondiagnostic for memory judgments, eliminated the false-recognition effect obtained in Experiment 3. Overall, the study suggests that conceptual relatedness produces false recognition even in the absence of shared perceptual surface features between study and test items, and it does so by generating feelings of familiarity.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0217294 to P.W.