A continuous dual-process model of remember/know judgments

John T Wixted, Laura Mickes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

288 Citations (Scopus)


The dual-process theory of recognition memory holds that recognition decisions can be based on recollection or familiarity, and the remember/know procedure is widely used to investigate those 2 processes. Dual-process theory in general and the remember/know procedure in particular have been challenged by an alternative strength-based interpretation based on signal-detection theory, which holds that remember judgments simply reflect stronger memories than do know judgments. Although supported by a considerable body of research, the signal-detection account is difficult to reconcile with G. Mandler's (1980) classic "butcher-on-the-bus" phenomenon (i.e., strong, familiarity-based recognition). In this article, a new signal-detection model is proposed that does not deny either the validity of dual-process theory or the possibility that remember/know judgments can-when used in the right way-help to distinguish between memories that are largely recollection based from those that are largely familiarity based. It does, however, agree with all prior signal-detection-based critiques of the remember/know procedure, which hold that, as it is ordinarily used, the procedure mainly distinguishes strong memories from weak memories (not recollection from familiarity).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-54
Number of pages30
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Memory
  • Models, Psychological
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition (Psychology)
  • Signal Detection, Psychological


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