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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2011 Jan;37(1):96-108. doi: 10.1037/a0021612.

Context affects feeling-of-knowing accuracy in younger and older adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, 490 Boston Avenue, Tufts University,Medford, MA 02155, USA.


In feeling of knowing (FOK) studies, participants predict subsequent recognition memory performance on items that were initially encoded but that cannot presently be recalled. Research suggests that FOK judgment magnitude may be influenced by the total amount, or quantity, of contextual information retrieved related to the unrecalled target (e.g., Koriat, 1993). The present study examined the contribution of quality of that information to episodic FOK judgments. In addition, we tested whether the episodic FOK deficit demonstrated by older adults could be reduced by encouraging retrieval of contextual information relevant to the target. Three experiments demonstrated that quality of the retrieved partial information influenced FOK judgments in both older and younger adults; however, the manifestation of that influence was age dependent. The results also indicated that older adults required explicit retrieval of contextual information before making FOK judgments in order to make accurate FOK predictions. The results suggest that FOK accuracy may be partially determined by search processes triggered when participants are queried for contextual information.

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