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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Arndt, J., & Reder, L. M. (2003). The effect of distinctive visual information on false recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 48(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0749-596x(02)00518-1.
Begg, I., & Snider, A. (1987). The generation effect: Evidence for generalized inhibition. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 13(4), 553–563. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7322.214.171.1243.
Bertsch, S., Pesta, B. J., Wiscott, R., & McDaniel, M. A. (2007). The generation effect: A meta-analytic review. Memory & Cognition, 35(2), 201–210. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193441.
Bodner, G. E., Huff, M. J., Lamontagne, R. W., & Azad, T. (2017). Getting at the source of distinctive encoding effects in the DRM paradigm: evidence from signal-detection measures and source judgments. Memory, 25, 642–655. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2016.1205094.
Bodner, G. E., Taikh, A., & Fawcett, J. M. (2014). Assessing the costs and benefits of production in recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21(1), 149–154. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-013-0485-1.
Brainerd, C. J., & Reyna, V. F. (2002). Fuzzy-trace theory and false memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(5), 164–169. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00192.
Deese, J. (1959). On the prediction of occurrence of particular verbal intrusions in immediate recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58, 17–22. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0046671.
Dodson, C. S., & Schacter, D. L. (2001). “If I had said it I would have remembered it: Reducing false memories with a distinctiveness heuristic. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(1), 155–161. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196152.
Fawcett, J. M. (2013). The production effect benefits performance in between-subject designs: A meta-analysis. Acta Psychologica, 142, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2012.10.001.
Foley, M. A., Wozniak, K. H., & Gillum, A. (2006). Imagination and false memory inductions: Investigating the role of process, content and source of imaginations. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20(9), 1119–1141. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.1265.
Forrin, N. D., Groot, B., & MacLeod, C. M. (2016). The d-prime directive: Assessing costs and benefits in recognition by dissociating mixed-list false alarm rates. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 1090–1111. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000214.
Gallo, D. A. (2004). Using recall to reduce false recognition: Diagnostic and disqualifying monitoring. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition, 30(1), 120–128. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-73126.96.36.199.
Gallo, D. A. (2006). Associative illusions of memory: False memory research in DRM and related tasks. New York: Psychology Press.
Gallo, D. A. (2010). False memories and fantastic beliefs: 15 years of the DRM illusion. Memory & Cognition, 38(7), 833–848. https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.38.7.833.
Gunter, R. W., Bodner, G. E., & Azad, T. (2007). Generation and mnemonic encoding induce a mirror effect in the DRM paradigm. Memory & Cognition, 35(5), 1083–1092. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193480.
Hege, A. C. G., & Dodson, C. S. (2004). Why distinctive information reduces false memories: Evidence for both impoverished relational-encoding and distinctiveness heuristic accounts. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition, 30(4), 787–795. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-73188.8.131.527.
Huff, M. J., & Aschenbrenner, A. J. (2018). Item-specific processing reduces false recognition in older and younger adults: Separating encoding and retrieval using signal detection and the diffusion model. Memory & Cognition, 46, 1287–1301. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-018-0837-1.
Huff, M. J., & Bodner, G. E. (2013). When does memory monitoring succeed versus fail? Comparing item-specific and relational encoding in the DRM paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39, 1246–1256. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031338.
Huff, M. J., & Bodner, G. E. (2014). All varieties of encoding variability are not created equal: Separating variable processing from variable tasks. Journal of Memory and Language, 73, 43–58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2014.02.004.
Huff, M. J., & Bodner, G. E. (2019). Item-specific and relational processing both improve recall accuracy in the DRM paradigm. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72, 1493–1506. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021818801427.
Huff, M. J., Bodner, G. E., & Fawcett, J. M. (2015). Effects of distinctive encoding on correct and false memory: A meta-analytic review of costs and benefits and their origins in the DRM paradigm. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(2), 349–365. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-014-0648-8.
Hunt, R. R. (2006). The concept of distinctiveness in memory research. In R. R. Hunt & J. B. Worthen (Eds.), Distinctiveness and memory (pp. 3–25). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hunt, R. R., & Einstein, G. O. (1981). Relational and item-specific information in memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 20(5), 497–514. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(81)90138-9.
Hunt, R. R., & Seta, C. E. (1984). Category size effects in recall: The roles of relational and individual item information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 10, 454–464. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-73184.108.40.2064.
Hunt, R. R., Smith, R. E., & Dunlap, K. R. (2011). How does distinctive processing reduce false recall? Journal of Memory and Language, 65, 378–389. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2011.06.003.
Hunt, R. R., & Worthen, J. B. (2006). Distinctiveness and memory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.001.0001.
Israel, L., & Schacter, D. L. (1997). Pictorial encoding reduces false recognition of semantic associates. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4(4), 577–581. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03214352.
McCabe, D. P., Presmanes, A. G., Robertson, C. L., & Smith, A. D. (2004). Item-specific processing reduces false memories. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11(6), 1074–1079. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196739.
McCabe, D. P., & Smith, A. D. (2006). The distinctiveness heuristic in false recognition and false recall. Memory, 14(5), 570–583. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658210600624564.
McDaniel, M., & Einstein, G. (1986). Bizarre imagery as an effective memory aid. The importance of distinctiveness. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 12, 54–65. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-73220.127.116.11.
Oliver, M. C., Bays, R. B., & Zabrucky, K. M. (2016). False memories and the DRM paradigm: Effects of imagery, list, and test type. The Journal of General Psychology, 143(1), 33–48. https://doi.org/10.1080/0022139.2015.1110558.
Roediger, H. L., III, Balota, D., & Watson, J. (2001a). Spreading activation and arousal of false memories. In H. L. I. I. I. Roediger, J. S. Nairne, I. Neath, & A. Surprenant (Eds.), The nature of remembering: Essays in honor of Robert G. Crowder (pp. 95–115). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
Roediger, H. L., III, & McDermott, K. B. (1995). Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21(4), 803–814. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7318.104.22.1683.
Roediger, H. L., III, Watson, J. M., McDermott, K. B., & Gallo, D. A. (2001b). Factors that determine false recall: A multiple regression analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8, 385–407. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196177.
Schacter, D. L., Israel, L., & Racine, C. (1999). Suppressing false recognition in younger and older adults: The distinctiveness heuristic. Journal of Memory and Language, 40, 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1998.2611.
Schmidt, S. R. (1991). Can we have a distinctive theory of memory? Memory & Cognition, 19(6), 523–542. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03197149.
Slamecka, N. J., & Graf, P. (1978). The generation effect: Delineation of a phenomenon. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 4, 592–604. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7322.214.171.1242.
Smith, R. E., & Hunt, R. R. (1998). Presentation modality affects false memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5, 710–715. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03208850.
Conflict of interest
The authors report no competing interests.
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.
Informed consent was obtained from all individuals who participated in this study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
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 85, 280–290 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01241-y