Advertisement

Memory & Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 69–76 | Cite as

Back to Woodworth: Role of interlopers in the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon

  • Gregory V. Jones
Article
  • 1.3k Downloads

Abstract

When a person reports that a word is on the tip of his or her tongue, that person often recalls instead another word that is similar in sound to the target word. Two opposite roles have been suggested for these interlopers. An older view (Woodworth, 1929) holds that they are instrumental in the development of tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states because they obstruct successful retrieval of intended targets. A more recent view (R. Brown & McNeill, 1966) holds, on the other hand, that interlopers tend to nullify TOT states by facilitating complete retrieval of the intended targets. A study is reported in which participants were explicitly presented with interloper words. The results provide two planks of support for Woodworth's hypothesis. First, more TOT states occurred when the interloper was similar in sound to the target than when it was not. Second, more TOT states occurred when the interloper was presented at the actual time of retrieval than when it was presented earlier. It appears that interlopers tend to induce TOT states by obstructing retrieval, rather than to nullify them by facilitating retrieval.

Keywords

Target Word Speech Production Correct Estimation Intended Target Initial Letter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Begg, I., &Snider, A. (1987). The generation effect: Evidence for generalized inhibition.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, &Cognition,13, 553–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brows, A. S. (1979). Priming effects in semantic memory retrieval processes.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory,5, 65–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, J. (1968). Reciprocal facilitation and impairment of free recall.Psychonomic Science,10, 41–42.Google Scholar
  4. Brpwm, R., &McNeill, D. (1966). The “tip of the tongue” phenomenon.Journal of Verbal Learning &Verbal Behavior,5, 325–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clark, H. H. (1973). The language-as-fixed-effect fallacy: A critique of language statistics in psychological research.Journal of Verbal Learning &Verbal Behavior,12, 335–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dell, G. S. (1986). A spreading-activation theory of retrieval in sentence production.Psychological Review,93, 283–321.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Harley, T. A. (1984). A critique of top—down independent levels models of speech production: Evidence from non-plan-internal speech errors.Cognitive Science,8, 191–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jones, G. V. (1984). Fragment and schema models for recall.Memory &Cognition,12, 250–263.Google Scholar
  9. Jones, G. V., &Langford, S. (1987). Phonological blocking in the tip of the tongue state.Cognition,25, 115–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Koriat, A., &Lieblich, I. (1974). What does a person in a “TOT” state know that a person in a “don't know” state doesn't know.Memory &Cognition,2, 647–655.Google Scholar
  11. McClelland, J. L., &Rumelhart, D. E. (1981). An interactive activation model of context effects in letter perception: Part 1. An account of basic findings.Psychological Review,88, 375–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Raalimakers, J. G. W., &Shiffrin, R. M. (1981). Search of associative memory.Psychological Review,118, 93–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Reason, J., &Lucas, D. (1984). Using cognitive diaries to investigate naturally occurring memory blocks. In J. E. Harris &P. E. Morris (Eds.),Everyday memory, actions and absent-mindedness (pp. 53–70). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Roediger, H. L., &Neely, J. H. (1982). Retrieval blocks in episodic and semantic memory.Canadian Journal of Psychology, 36, 213–242.Google Scholar
  15. Roediger, H. L., Neely, J. H., &Blaxton, T. A. (1983). Inhibition from related primes in semantic memory retrieval: A reappraisal of Brown's (1979) paradigm.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, &Cognition,9, 478–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rubin, D. C. (1975). Within word structure in the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon.Journal of Verbal Learning &Verbal Behavior,14, 392–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Slamecka, N. J. (1968). An examination of trace storage in free recall.Journal of Experimental Psychology,76, 504–513.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Slamecka, N. J., &Fevreiski, J. (1983). The generation effect when generation fails.Journal of Verbal Learning &Verbal Behavior,22, 153–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Slamecka, N. J., &Graf, P. (1978). The generation effect: Delineation of a phenomenon.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning &Memory,4, 592–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Slamecka, N. J., &Katsaiti, L. T. (1987). The generation effect as an artifact of selective displaced rehearsal.Journal of Memory &Language,26, 589–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stemberger, J. P. (1985). An interactive activation model of language production. In A. W. Ellis (Ed.),Progress in the psychology of language (Vol 1, pp. 143–186). London: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Thorndike, E. L., &Lorge, I. (1944).The teacher's word book of 30,000 words. New York: Teacher's College Press.Google Scholar
  23. Woodworth, R. S. (1929).Psychology (2nd rev. ed.). New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  24. Woodworth, R. S. (1938).Experimental psychology. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  25. Woodworth, R. S., &Marquis, D. G. (1947).Psychology. New York: Holt.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory V. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WarwickCoventryEngland

Personalised recommendations