Erroneous and veridical recall are not two sides of the same coin: Evidence from semantic distraction in free recall

John E Marsh, Robert W Hughes, Patrik Sörqvist, Phillip Beaman, Dylan M Jones

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Two experiments examined the extent to which erroneous recall blocks veridical recall using, as a vehicle for study, the disruptive impact of distractors that are semantically similar to a list of words presented for free recall. Instructing participants to avoid erroneous recall of to-be-ignored spoken distractors attenuated their recall but this did not influence the disruptive effect of those distractors on veridical recall (Experiment 1). Using an externalized output-editing procedure—whereby participants recalled all items that came to mind and identified those that were erroneous—the usual between-sequences semantic similarity effect on erroneous and veridical recall was replicated but the relationship between the rate of erroneous and veridical recall was weak (Experiment 2). The results suggest that forgetting is not due to veridical recall being blocked by similar events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1728-1740
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number6
Early online date4 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2015

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