Bias Effects in a Two-Stage Recognition Paradigm: A Challenge for “Pure” Threshold and Signal Detection Models

Qiuli Ma, Jeffrey J. Starns, David Kellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We explored a two-stage recognition memory paradigm in which people first make single-item “studied”/ “not studied” decisions and then have a chance to correct their errors in forced-choice trials. Each forcedchoice trial included one studied word (“target”) and one nonstudied word (“lure”) that received the same previous single-item response. For example, a studied-studied trial would have a target that was correctly called “studied” and a lure that was incorrectly called “studied.” The two-high-threshold (2HT) model and the unequal-variance signal detection (UVSD) model predict opposite effects of biasing the initial singleitem responses on subsequent forced-choice accuracy. Results from two experiments showed that the bias effect is actually near zero and well out of the range of effects predicted by either model. Follow-up analyses suggested that the model failures were not a function of experiment artifacts like changing memory states between the two types of recognition trials. Follow-up analyses also showed that the dual process signal detection model made better predictions for the forced-choice data than 2HT and UVSD models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1484-1506
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 30 2021


  • Recognition memory
  • Signal detection theory
  • Threshold models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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