Remembering “primed” words: A counter-intuitive effect of repetition on recognition memory.
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The present study examines the effect of immediate repetition on recognition memory. In a series of 4 experiments, the study phase task was to name aloud a word that was immediately preceded by either the same word (repeated trials) or a different word (not-repeated trials). Across experiments, performance in the study phase demonstrated the anticipated benefit in naming times for repeated trials. More important, performance in the test phase revealed greater sensitivity for not-repeated than repeated trials. This effect was observed even when repetitions at study were separated by an unrelated word (Experiment 3), and was eliminated only when participants named both words in succession at study (Experiment 4). These findings fit nicely with the desirable difficulty principle (R. A. Bjork, 1994), as they demonstrate that items more easily processed at study (i.e., repeated items) are not as well-encoded as items that are more difficult to process at study (i.e., not-repeated items). Furthermore, the current study points to the possibility that attentional orienting in response to processing difficulty may constitute a broadly important cognitive control adaptation that impacts memory encoding. (PsycINFO Database Record
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