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The Role of Relational Processing in Memory for Actions: A Negative Enactment Effect in Free Recall

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The enactment effect occurs if people remember items that they enacted or enacted symbolically during study better than items that they were simply asked to remember. Enactment is generally believed to lead to thorough processing of individual items. There has been some controversy as to whether the superior processing of information concerning the relations between action phrases (i.e. whole-list relational information) may additionally contribute to the enactment effect. The extant empirical data on this issue seem contradictory. In the account brough forward here, it is hypothesized that whole-list relational information is processed better during enactment than during verbal learning only if it taps the same aspect of a concept as the verb-object relational information within each action phrase. It is processed worse if these two types of information tap different aspects of a concept. This explanation represents an extension of the three-factor account of positive and negative generation effects to the field of memory for actions. To provide evidence for this account, positive and, notably, negative enactment effects in object recall and in organization scores are demonstrated in three experiments with a total of 246 participants.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713755860

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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