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The list strength effect in source memory: Data and a global matching model

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 06:59 authored by Osth, AF, Fox, J, McKague, M, Heathcote, A, Dennis, S
A critical constraint on models of item recognition comes from the list strength paradigm, in which a proportion of items are strengthened to observe the effect on the non-strengthened items. In item recognition, it has been widely established that increasing list strength does not impair performance, in that performance of a set of items is unaffected by the strength of the other items on the list. However, to date the effects of list strength manipulations have not been measured in the source memory task. We conducted three source memory experiments where items studied in two sources were presented in a pure weak list, where all items were presented once, and a mixed list, where half of the items in both sources were presented four times. Each experiment varied the nature of the testing format. In Experiment 1, in which each study list was only tested on one task (item recognition or source memory), a list strength effect was found in source memory while a null effect was found for item recognition. Experiments 2 and 3 showed robust null list strength effects when either the test phase (Experiment 2) or the analysis (Experiment 3) was restricted to recognized items. An extension of the Osth and Dennis (2015) model was able to account for the results in both tasks in all experiments by assuming that unrecognized items elicit guess responses in the source memory task and that there was low interference among the studied items. The results were also found to be consistent with a variant of the retrieving effectively from memory model (REM; Shiffrin & Steyvers, 1997) that uses ensemble representations.


Publication title

Journal of Memory and Language








School of Psychological Sciences


Academic Press

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Elsevier Inc.

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