Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1035–1053 | Cite as

Semantic processing in “associative” false memory

  • C. J. BrainerdEmail author
  • Y. Yang
  • V. F. Reyna
  • M. L. Howe
  • B. A. Mills
Theoretical and Review Articles


We studied the semantic properties of a class of illusions, of which the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm is the most prominent example, in which subjects falsely remember words that are associates of studied words. We analyzed DRM materials for 16 dimensions of semantic content and assessed the ability of these dimensions to predict interlist variability in false memory. For the more general class of illusions, we analyzed pairs of presented and unpresented words that varied in associative strength for the presence of these same 16 semantic properties. DRM materials proved to be exceptionally rich in meaning, as indexed by these semantic properties. Variability in false recall, false recognition, and backward associative strength loaded on a single semantic factor (familiarity/meaningfulness), whereas variability in true recall loaded on a quite different factor (imagery/concreteness). For word association generally, 15 semantic properties varied reliably with forward or backward association between words. Implications for semantic versus associative processing in this class of illusions, for dual-process theories, and for semantic properties of word associations are discussed. nt]mis|The present article was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institutes of Health (MH-061211) and the National Science Foundation (BCS 0553225) to C.J.B. and V.F.R., a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R13CA126359) to V.F.R., and a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council U.K. (RES-062-23-0452) to M.L.H.


False Alarm Rate False Memory Semantic Processing False Recognition Semantic Property 
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.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. J. Brainerd
    • 1
    Email author
  • Y. Yang
    • 1
  • V. F. Reyna
    • 1
  • M. L. Howe
    • 2
  • B. A. Mills
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.Lancaster UniversityLancasterEngland

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