A version of Sternberg’s (1966) short-term, visual memory recognition paradigm with pictures of unfamiliar faces as stimuli was used in three experiments to assess the applicability of the distinctiveness based SIMPLE model proposed by Brown, Neath & Chater (2002). Initial simulations indicated that the amount of recency predicted increased as the parameter measuring the psychological distinctiveness of the stimulus material (c) increased, and that the amount of primacy was dependent on the extent of proactive interference from previously presented stimuli. The data from experiment 1, which used memory lists of four and five faces varying in visual similarity confirmed the predicted, extended recency effect. However, changes in visual similarity were not found to produce changes in c. In Experiments 2 and 3, the conditions that influence the magnitude of c were explored. These revealed that both the familiarity of the stimulus class before testing, and changes in familiarity due to perceptual learning, influenced distinctiveness as indexed by the parameter c. Overall the empirical data from all three experiments were well-fit by SIMPLE.
This manuscript was accepted for publication in Memory and Cognition on 1st January 2007. The copyright is held by Psychonomic Society Publications. This document may not exactly correspond to the final published version. Psychonomic Society Publications disclaims any responsibility or liability for errors in this manuscript.