Order Information and Retrieval Distinctiveness: Recall of Common Versus Bizarre Material

  • McDaniel M
  • Delosh E
  • Merritt P
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The order-encoding hypothesis (E. L. DeLosh & M. A. McDaniel, 1996) assumes that serial-order information contributes to the retrieval of list items and that serial-order encoding is better for common items than bizarre items. In line with this account, Experiment 1 revealed better free recall and serial-order memory for common than for bizarre items in pure lists, and Experiment 2 showed that recall for bizarre items increased and the recall advantage of common items was eliminated when serial-order encoding for bizarre items was increased to the level of common items. However, inconsistent with a second assumption that bizarre-item advantages in mixed lists reflect better individual-item encoding for bizarre items, Experiments 3 and 4 showed that the bizarreness effect in mixed lists is eliminated when alternative retrieval strategies are encouraged. This set of findings is better explained by the differential-retrieval-process framework, which proposes that contextual factors (e.g., list composition) influence the extent to which various types of information are used at retrieval, with the bizarreness advantage in mixed lists dependent on a distinctiveness-based retrieval process.

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  • Mark A. McDaniel

  • Edward L. Delosh

  • Paul S. Merritt

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