Prior stimulus familiarity has a variety of effects on visual working memory representations and processes. However, it is still unclear how familiarity interacts with the veridical correspondence between mnemonic representation and external stimuli. Here, we examined the effect of familiarity on two aspects of mnemonic correspondence, precision and accuracy, in visual working memory. Specifically, we used a hierarchical Bayesian method to model task performance in a change detection task with celebrity lookalikes (morphed faces between celebrities and noncelebrities with various ratios) as the memory stimuli. We found that familiarity improves memory precision by sharpening mnemonic representation but impairs memory accuracy by biasing mnemonic representation toward familiar faces (i.e., celebrity faces). These findings provide an integrated account of the puzzling celebrity sighting phenomena with the dissociable effects on mnemonic imprecision and bias and further highlight the importance of assessing these two aspects of memory correspondence in future research.
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All data have been made publicly available via OSF and can be accessed at https://osf.io/697vs/?view_only=ded856c7911842cab91ee5432c47c5b8. The design and analysis plan for the experiment were not preregistered.
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The work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) R01MH117132 to W.Z.
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Won, BY., Park, HB. & Zhang, W. Familiarity enhances mnemonic precision but impairs mnemonic accuracy in visual working memory. Psychon Bull Rev 30, 1452–1462 (2023). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-023-02250-0