Memory & Cognition

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 109–118

Interevent differences in event memory: Why are some events more recallable than others?


  • Ronald L. Cohen
    • Department of PsychologyGlendon College
  • Michele Peterson
    • Department of PsychologyGlendon College
  • Toni Mantini-Atkinson
    • Department of PsychologyGlendon College

DOI: 10.3758/BF03197022

Cite this article as:
Cohen, R.L., Peterson, M. & Mantini-Atkinson, T. Memory & Cognition (1987) 15: 109. doi:10.3758/BF03197022


Interitem differences in the free recall of action events were studied in five experiments. The action events were presented in three different formats: minitasks performed by the subjects in response to verbal instructions from the experimenter (SPTs), minitasks performed by the experimenter (EPTs), and task instructions (TIs). Not only were reliable interevent differences in recall probability demonstrated within each format, but these differences tended to correlate across formats, especially between the SPTs and EPTs; thus, a highly recallable SPT also tended to be a highly recallable EPT. Attempts to explain interitem recall differences in terms of differences in familiarity, vividness, and the availability of environmental cues were largely unsuccessful. An experimental analysis of the action events into action and object components showed the recall probabilities of our events to be mainly dependent on the recall probabilities of their action components, with only a minor dependence on the recall probabilities of their object components.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1987