Recollection is a continuous process: implications for dual-process theories of recognition memory

Laura Mickes, Peter E Wais, John T Wixted

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

Abstract

Dual-process theory, which holds that recognition decisions can be based on recollection or familiarity, has long seemed incompatible with signal detection theory, which holds that recognition decisions are based on a singular, continuous memory-strength variable. Formal dual-process models typically regard familiarity as a continuous process (i.e., familiarity comes in degrees), but they construe recollection as a categorical process (i.e., recollection either occurs or does not occur). A continuous process is characterized by a graded relationship between confidence and accuracy, whereas a categorical process is characterized by a binary relationship such that high confidence is associated with high accuracy but all lower degrees of confidence are associated with chance accuracy. Using a source-memory procedure, we found that the relationship between confidence and source-recollection accuracy was graded. Because recollection, like familiarity, is a continuous process, dual-process theory is more compatible with signal detection theory than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-15
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Memory

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Psychological Theory
  • ROC Curve
  • Recognition (Psychology)
  • Signal Detection, Psychological

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