Brief Reports

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 481-485

First online:

Response conformity in recognition testing

  • Dana M. SchneiderAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Rice University
  • , Michael J. WatkinsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Rice University Email author 


In a recognition memory test for a just-studied word list, subjects responded positively or negatively to each test word in the presence of another subject, with the two taking turns to call out their responses. Responses given second tended to conform to those given first. This was so for responses to both targets and lures and following both positive and negative first responses, although the effect was sharply reduced for targets given a negative first response. The same pattern of results was obtained in a second experiment, in which an incognito confederate replaced one of the subjects and so brought one set of responses under full experimenter control. These experiments illustrate a powerful effect of social pressure on recognition responses.