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Semantic processing in "associative" false memory

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  • C. J. Brainerd
  • C. Yang
  • V. F. Reyna
  • M. L. Howe
  • B. A. Mills
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2008
<mark>Journal</mark>Psychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number6
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)1035-1053
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We studied the semantic properties of a class of illusions, of which the Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm is the most prominent example, in which subjects falsely remember words that are associates of studied words. We analyzed DRM materials for 16 dimensions of semantic content and assessed the ability of these dimensions to predict interlist variability in false memory. For the more general class of illusions, we analyzed pairs of presented and unpresented words that varied in associative strength for the presence of these same 16 semantic properties. DRM materials proved to be exceptionally rich in meaning, as indexed by these semantic properties. Variability in false recall, false recognition, and backward associative strength loaded on a single semantic factor (familiarity/meaningfulness), whereas variability in true recall loaded on a quite different factor (imagery/concreteness). For word association generally, 15 semantic properties varied reliably with forward or backward association between words. Implications for semantic versus associative processing in this class of illusions, for dual-process theories, and for semantic properties of word associations are discussed.

Bibliographic note

Theoretical and Review Articles