Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 1310–1316 | Cite as

The mnemonic effect of choice

  • Michelle E. CoverdaleEmail author
  • James S. Nairne


Making choices during encoding leads to superior memory compared with having the same choices made for you. Evidence also suggests that chosen items might be more memorable than unchosen alternatives. In prior experiments, an incidental memory advantage was found for chosen over unchosen items when participants chose which one of two words would be more useful to a situation. However, it remains uncertain whether this mnemonic benefit is due to the act of choosing or to a better “fit” of chosen items to the encoding situation (congruity). In the present research, we conducted two experiments to dissociate choice and congruity effects. In both experiments, we manipulated choice and congruity and showed mnemonic benefits for chosen words over unchosen words and for congruent words over incongruent words, but these effects did not interact. There is apparently a unique mnemonic benefit for chosen words that cannot be explained by their “fit” to the encoding task.



This research was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1532345). The authors wish to thank Josefa Pandeirada for comments regarding this research.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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