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Remembered study mode: Support for the distinctiveness account of the production effect

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The production effect is the finding that words spoken aloud at study are subsequently remembered better than are words read silently at study. According to the distinctiveness account, aloud words are remembered better because the act of speaking those words aloud is encoded and later recovery of this information can be used to infer that those words were studied. An alternative account (the strength-based account) is that memory strength is simply greater for words read aloud. To discriminate these two accounts, we investigated study mode judgements (i.e., “aloud”/”silent”/”new” ratings): The strength-based account predicts that “aloud” responses should positively correlate with memory strength, whereas the distinctiveness account predicts that accuracy of study mode judgements will be independent of memory strength. Across three experiments, where the strength of some silent words was increased by repetition, study mode was discriminable regardless of strength—even when the strength of aloud and repeated silent items was equivalent. Consistent with the distinctiveness account, we conclude that memory for “aloudness” is independent of memory strength and a likely candidate to explain the production effect.
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Keywords: Distinctiveness; Production effect; Recognition; Source memory; Strength

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2: Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada 3: Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: July 4, 2014

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