City Research Online

Memory as discrimination: Strategic processing of retrieval cues

Koutmeridou, Kyriaki (2013). Memory as discrimination: Strategic processing of retrieval cues. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis investigates the validity of a memory retrieval view that insists on the diagnostic relationship between retrieval cues and target memories and examines how the diagnostic value of a cue can influence the processing it receives. As a concept, the encoding-retrieval match is a widely accepted explanation of retrieval performance. According to this view, performance relates to the overlap between the retrieval information and the to-be-recalled information [see Tulving (1979, 1983) for a discussion]. The cue overload effect is another well-established phenomenon. It stipulates that retrieval performance will decrease as the number of potential targets in memory subsumed under a retrieval cue increases (Watkins & Watkins, 1975). Assuming these two factors can interact, a variety of outcomes are possible. The memory-as-discrimination view, investigated as part of this thesis, suggests that factors such as cue overload, distinctiveness, and potentially others contribute to a process of memory retrieval where diagnosticity is central (Nairne, 2002). Under such a system, retrieval is most likely to be successful when a cue specifies a target in memory to the exclusion of other potential candidates. In the second chapter, this idea is tested via three studies that use a cued-recognition paradigm. Results support the memory-as-discrimination view. However, this set of experiments brought to light another interesting phenomenon: participants appeared to prioritise the processing of the more diagnostic cues, perhaps in an effort to maximise the discrimination power of the available cue constellations. Support for this hypothesis is provided in the third chapter through a set of three experiments calling upon eye-tracking and other measures. Results from all three studies suggest that people preferentially process the more discriminative cues. How well a cue specifies a retrieval target appears to have two related effects: diagnosticity has a causal relationship with retrieval performance and it determines which cues are prioritised / processed with more emphasis.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
Download (1MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login