Skip to content

Cue quality and criterion setting in recognition memory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-769
Number of pages13
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number5
Early online date2 Feb 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Jan 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jul 2018


Previous studies on how people set and modify decision criteria in old-new recognition tasks (in which they have to decide whether or not a stimulus was seen in a study phase) have almost exclusively focused on properties of the study items, such as presentation frequency or study list length. In contrast, in the three studies reported here, we manipulated the quality of the test cues in a scene-recognition task, either by degrading through Gaussian blurring (Experiment 1) or by limiting presentation duration (Experiment 2 and 3). In Experiments 1 and 2, degradation of the test cue led to worse old-new discrimination. Most importantly, however, participants were more liberal in their responses to degraded cues (i.e., more likely to call the cue “old”), demonstrating strong within-list, item-by-item, criterion shifts. This liberal response bias toward degraded stimuli came at the cost of increasing the false alarm rate while maintaining a constant hit rate. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 2 with additional stimulus types (words and faces) but did not provide accuracy feedback to participants. The criterion shifts in Experiment 3 were smaller in magnitude than Experiments 1 and 2 and varied in consistency across stimulus type, suggesting, in line with previous studies, that feedback is important for participants to shift their criteria.

    Research areas

  • Criterion setting, Cue quality, Mirror effect, Recognition, Signal detection theory

    Structured keywords

  • Memory

Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via SPRINGER at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 0.99 MB, PDF document


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups