Student Research - Author: Chris Lorah

Advisor: Anjali Thapar


False Recognition and the Distinctiveness Heuristic

Previous research has shown that, following the study of conceptually related picture lists, participants will respond “old” to non-presented but conceptually related false targets during a recognition test less often than when semantically related word lists are presented. Principles behind this reduction in the acceptance of false targets were investigated in the current project. Specifically, the current project focused on: (1) replicating previous findings that showed a selective reduction in the acceptance of false targets following the study of conceptually related picture lists compared to semantically related word lists; (2) determining if there is a relationship between more “distinct” picture lists and reduction in the acceptance of false targets and; (3) evaluating possible differences in the encoding of relational information following the presentation of conceptually related pictures, semantically related words or a combination of both. In general, we failed to replicate reduction in the acceptance of false targets following the study of conceptually related picture lists (Experiment 1). We also did not discover differences in false target acceptance rates based on cross list variation in distinctiveness (Experiment 1a). On the other hand, we found partial support for the premise of impoverished relational encoding following the study of conceptually related picture lists (Experiment 2). Implications concern the distinctiveness heuristic, a response style used to explain reduction in the acceptance of false targets following manipulations of presentation modality at study.