Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1272–1280 | Cite as

Cross-situational consistency in recognition memory response bias

  • Justin Kantner
  • D. Stephen Lindsay
Brief Report


Individuals taking an old–new recognition memory test differ widely in their bias to respond “old,” ranging from strongly conservative to strongly liberal, even without any manipulation intended to affect bias. Kantner and Lindsay (2012) found stability of bias across study–test cycles, suggesting that bias is a cognitive trait. That consistency, however, could have arisen because participants perceived the two tests as being part of the same experiment in the same context. In the present study, we tested for stability across two recognition study–test procedures embedded in markedly different experiments, held weeks apart, that participants did not know were connected. Bias showed substantial cross-situational stability. Moreover, bias weakly predicted identifications on an eyewitness memory task and accuracy on a go–no-go task. Although we found little in the way of relationships between bias and five personality measures, these findings suggest that response bias is a stable and broadly influential characteristic of recognizers.


Recognition memory Response bias Individual differences Trait 


Author note

J.K. is now at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This research was supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to D.S.L. We thank Caitlin Malli, Emily Cameron, Jordy Freeman, Graeme Austin, and Priya Rosenberg for their assistance with data collection; Geoff Cumming for providing the ESCI software used to calculate correlation confidence intervals; and Dave Hamilton for suggesting two of the personality measures used in this work. Some of the mock-crime and lineup stimulus materials used in this work were provided via an Australian Research Council–funded project carried out by N. Brewer, N. Weber, and D.S.L. The remaining eyewitness task materials were provided by Fiona Gabbert and Gary Wells.

Supplementary material

13423_2014_608_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (60 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 59 kb)


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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