Recognition of script-typical versus script-atypical information: Effects of cognitive elaboration

Abstract

Memory for script-atypical information has been shown to be superior to memory for script-typical information. Two explanations of this typicality effect are evaluated: (1) the attention-elaboration hypothesis (AEH) and (2) the script-copy-plus-tag hypothesis (SCTH). The AEH claims that atypical information is recognized better because it attracts more attention and cognitive elaboration. According to the SCTH, memory representations of script-based texts are established automatically and constitute a copy of the script plus tags for atypical events that facilitate later recognition. We investigated recognition memory and memory for the presentation form of typical and atypical items originally shown with versus without missing letters. Experiment 1 showed that presenting items in fragmentary form tends to improve recognition memory mostly for highly typical items. Experiment 2 revealed that the size of this missing-letters effect is affected by the presentation form of items preceding the target items during acquisition. For fragmented items preceded by other fragmented items, the typicality effect virtually disappeared. Memory for the presentation form of items was generally moderate. These results are readily explained within the AEH framework and pose some problems for the SCTH.

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Correspondence to Edgar Erdfelder or Jürgen Bredenkamp.

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The work on this article was supported by grants of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to J.B. (Br301/6-1, Br301/6-2, and Br301/6-3).

—Accepted by previous associate editor Kathryn T. Spoehr

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Erdfelder, E., Bredenkamp, J. Recognition of script-typical versus script-atypical information: Effects of cognitive elaboration. Mem Cogn 26, 922–938 (1998). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03201173

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Keywords

  • Recognition Memory
  • Typicality Effect
  • Target Item
  • Source Memory
  • Source Monitoring