On the importance of looking back: The role of recursive remindings in recency judgments and cued recall
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Suppose that you were asked which of two movies you had most recently seen. The results of the experiments reported here suggest that your answer would be more accurate if, when viewing the later movie, you were reminded of the earlier one. In the present experiments, we investigated the role of remindings in recency judgments and cued-recall performance. We did this by presenting a list composed of two instances from each of several different categories and later asking participants to select (Exp. 1) or to recall (Exp. 2) the more recently presented instance. Reminding was manipulated by varying instructions to look back over memory of earlier instances during the presentation of later instances. As compared to a control condition, cued-recall performance revealed facilitation effects when remindings occurred and were later recollected, but interference effects in their absence. The effects of reminding on recency judgments paralleled those on cued recall of more recently presented instances. We interpret these results as showing that reminding produces a recursive representation that embeds memory for an earlier-presented category instance into that of a later-presented one and, thereby, preserves their temporal order. Large individual differences in the probabilities of remindings and of their later recollection were observed. The widespread importance of recursive reminding for theory and for applied purposes is discussed.
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