, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 117-126

The relation of tip-of-the-tongue states and retrieval time


The tip-of-the-tongue state (TOT) is the phenomenological experience that a word is on the verge of being recalled. Participants rated TOTs as either emotional or nonemotional. In Experiment 1, given general-information questions, participants spent more time attempting retrieval during emotional TOTs than during nonemotional TOTs or n-TOTs (retrieval failures not accompanied by TOTs). Experiment 2 replicated the effect that TOTs show longer retrieval times than n-TOTs. In Experiment 3, with word definitions as stimuli, retrieval times were longer for emotional TOTs. Experiment 4 showed the same relation between retrieval times and TOTs even when participants made retrospective decisions about whether they had experienced a TOT before they retrieved the correct target. Valence of emotion was correlated with correct resolution of the TOT. These results are discussed in the context of a metacognitive model, in which TOTs serve to monitor and control cognition.