Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 1234–1247 | Cite as

Category-length and category-strength effects using images of scenes

  • Oliver BaumannEmail author
  • Joyce M. G. Vromen
  • Adam C. Boddy
  • Eloise Crawshaw
  • Michael S. Humphreys


Global matching models have provided an important theoretical framework for recognition memory. Key predictions of this class of models are that (1) increasing the number of occurrences in a study list of some items affects the performance on other items (list-strength effect) and that (2) adding new items results in a deterioration of performance on the other items (list-length effect). Experimental confirmation of these predictions has been difficult, and the results have been inconsistent. A review of the existing literature, however, suggests that robust length and strength effects do occur when sufficiently similar hard-to-label items are used. In an effort to investigate this further, we had participants study lists containing one or more members of visual scene categories (bathrooms, beaches, etc.). Experiments 1 and 2 replicated and extended previous findings showing that the study of additional category members decreased accuracy, providing confirmation of the category-length effect. Experiment 3 showed that repeating some category members decreased the accuracy of nonrepeated members, providing evidence for a category-strength effect. Experiment 4 eliminated a potential challenge to these results. Taken together, these findings provide robust support for global matching models of recognition memory. The overall list lengths, the category sizes, and the number of repetitions used demonstrated that scene categories are well-suited to testing the fundamental assumptions of global matching models. These include (A) interference from memories for similar items and contexts, (B) nondestructive interference, and (C) that conjunctive information is made available through a matching operation.


Category length Category strength List length List strength Global matching Item noise Recognition memory 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Baumann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Joyce M. G. Vromen
    • 1
  • Adam C. Boddy
    • 1
  • Eloise Crawshaw
    • 1
  • Michael S. Humphreys
    • 3
  1. 1.Queensland Brain InstituteUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Interdisciplinary Centre for the Artificial Mind (iCAM)Bond UniversityRobinaAustralia
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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