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Mem Cognit. 2015 May;43(4):647-58. doi: 10.3758/s13421-014-0479-x.

The relatedness effect on judgments of learning: A closer look at the contribution of processing fluency.

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Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, Schloss, Ehrenhof-Ost, 68131, Mannheim, Germany,


The cue-utilization view to judgments of learning (JOLs) assumes that both ease of processing during study and people's beliefs about memory may contribute to people's predictions on the likelihood of remembering recently studied information. However, a recent study (Mueller, Tauber, & Dunlosky, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20(2), 378-384, 2013; Experiment 3) found that processing fluency does not contribute to the effect of pair relatedness on JOLs, that is, to higher JOLs for related paired associates as compared to unrelated paired associates. We investigated whether this finding primarily depends on specific aspects of the paired associates employed or on the measure of processing fluency used in the previous study. In our first two experiments, participants therefore studied lists with (a) uniformly high associative strengths versus (b) a wide range of associative strengths. Results showed that processing disfluency--operationalized as number of trials to acquisition in Experiment 1 and as self-paced study time in Experiment 2--partially mediated the effect of relatedness on JOLs for both types of lists. Finally, in Experiment 3, the contribution of processing fluency to the relatedness effect increased with study-test experience. Unlike Mueller et al., we thus found that processing fluency contributes to the relatedness effect on JOLs. These findings are consistent with the assumption that ease of processing is an important basis for JOLs.

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