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Focused attention on one contextual attribute does not reduce source memory for a different attribute

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In three experiments, participants were asked to learn a particular contextual dimension of a study episode for a later memory test. The hypothesis being evaluated was that focused attention towards learning a particular source-specifying attribute would decrease memory for a different attribute dimension. Although source memory for the attribute dimensions in the focus of attention were generally improved, memory was not diminished for contextual attributes ostensibly outside the focus of primary attention. The absence of any decrease in memory appears to be a somewhat general phenomenon because it was found with external-external, internal-external, and internal-internal combinations of attribute dimensions. The results may be most consistent with a model of cognitive processing in which people have separate pools of attentional resources rather than a single pool of general resources.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Georgia, USA 2: Louisiana State University, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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