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Distinctive encoding of a subset of DRM lists yields not only benefits, but also costs and spillovers

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Prior research has emphasized that performing distinctive encoding on a subset of lists in the DRM paradigm suppresses false recognition; we show that its benefits can be mitigated by costs and spillover effects. Within groups read half the DRM lists and solved anagrams for the other half using a strategy that emphasized either item-specific or relational processing. Their recognition was compared to three pure-list control groups (read, item-specific generation, relational generation). Correct recognition in the within groups showed a benefit for generate items and a cost for read items, resulting in little net improvement relative to pure reading. False recognition in the within groups was reduced following item-specific vs. relational generation, but there was again little net improvement. Most surprisingly, false recognition in the within groups was greater for generate than read lists. This pattern suggests that relational processing of read lists spilled over to generate lists, boosting false recognition for generate lists. Distinctive encoding of a subset of items does not appear to globally improve memory accuracy.

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Correspondence to Mark J. Huff.

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The studies reported were approved by the University of Calgary Research Ethics Board (Protocol #6684) and found to be in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration ethical principles.

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Huff, M.J., Bodner, G.E. & Gretz, M.R. Distinctive encoding of a subset of DRM lists yields not only benefits, but also costs and spillovers. Psychological Research (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01241-y

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