Psychological Research

, Volume 82, Issue 4, pp 685–699 | Cite as

Not all identification tasks are born equal: testing the involvement of production processes in perceptual identification and lexical decision

  • Pietro Spataro
  • Daniele Saraulli
  • Neil W. Mulligan
  • Vincenzo Cestari
  • Marco Costanzi
  • Clelia Rossi-ArnaudEmail author
Original Article


The distinction between identification and production processes suggests that implicit memory should require more attention resources when there is a competition between alternative solutions during the test phase. The present two experiments assessed this hypothesis by examining the effects of divided attention (DA) at encoding on the high- and low-response-competition versions of perceptual identification (Experiment 1) and lexical decision (Experiment 2). In both experiments, words presented in the high-response-competition condition had many orthographic neighbours and at least one higher-frequency neighbour, whereas words presented in the low-response-competition condition had few orthographic neighbours and no higher-frequency neighbour. Consistent with the predictions of the identification/production distinction, Experiment 1 showed that DA reduced repetition priming in the high-, but not in the low-response-competition version of perceptual identification; in contrast, DA had comparable effects in the two versions of lexical decision (Experiments 2). These findings provide the first experimental evidence in support of the hypothesis that perceptual identification, a task nominally based on identification processes, might involve a substantive production component.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pietro Spataro
    • 1
  • Daniele Saraulli
    • 2
  • Neil W. Mulligan
    • 3
  • Vincenzo Cestari
    • 1
  • Marco Costanzi
    • 4
  • Clelia Rossi-Arnaud
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Cell Biology and Neurobiology InstituteC.N.R National Research Council of ItalyRomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of Human SciencesFree University Maria Ss. Assunta (LUMSA)RomeItaly

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