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Memory. 1996 Jan;4(1):31-48.

Generation effects and the lack thereof: the role of transfer-appropriate processing.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Oberlin College, OH 44074, USA.


We report two experiments designed to test a multifactor transfer-appropriate processing explanation of generation effects, and the lack thereof, in free recall and cued recall. The basic argument is that the act of generating a target enhances the processing of one or more possible types of information (e.g. target-specific information, cue-target relationships, or target-target relationships) and that subsequent retention tests will reveal an advantage (or disadvantage) of such generation (compared to a "read" control) to the degree that a test is sensitive to the information on which processing was focused during study. Across the two experiments, manipulations of identical stimulus materials forced subjects to process different types of information in order to generate targets, producing a striking reversal in the relative levels of free recall and cued recall for targets that had been generated vs. read, and lending strong support to the transfer-appropriate processing aspect of the proposed framework for explaining generation effects.

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