Criss (Cognitive Psychology 59:297-319, 2009) reported that subjective ratings of memory strength showed a mirror effect pattern in which strengthening the studied words increased ratings for targets and decreased ratings for lures. She interpreted the effect on lure items as evidence for differentiation, a process whereby lures produce a poorer match to strong than to weak memory traces. However, she also noted that participants might use different mappings between memory evidence and levels of the rating scale when they expected strong versus weak targets; that is, the effect might be produced by decision processes rather than differentiation. We report two experiments designed to distinguish these accounts. Some participants studied pure lists of weak or strong items (presented once or five times, respectively), while others studied mixed lists of half weak and half strong items. The participants from both groups had pure-strength tests: Only strong or only weak items were tested, and the participants were informed of which it would be before the test. The results showed that strength ratings for lures were lower when strong versus weak targets were tested, regardless of whether the study list was pure or mixed. In the mixed-study condition, the effect was produced even after identical study lists, and thus the same degree of differentiation in the studied traces. Therefore, our results suggest that the strength-rating mirror effect is produced by changes in decision processes.
- Memory models
- Mirror effects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)