The effect of associative interference on predictions for future memory performance
McGuire, Michael J
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To ensure that one has learned information it is often necessary that one assesses his or her memory for that information. In fact, it should come as no surprise that we often assess our memory for future performance on a daily basis. Depending on the outcome of our assessment (and possibly our level of concern or energy) we may or may not need to take follow-up measures like relearning or taking notes. One manner in which such an assessment can be achieved is by predicting how well one will do on an upcoming memory task for previously learned information. Making predictions concerning memory performance falls under the realm of metamemory judgments. Currently, several factors exist that can potentially influence both the magnitude and accuracy of metamemory judgments. Four experiments were conducted to better understand the factors that are currently held in high regard when discussing metamemory judgments. Each of the factors stem from different models of feeling-of-knowing (FOK); FOK judgments are predictions concerning memory performance for previously unrecalled queries originally investigated by Hart (1965). Three bases of metamemory judgments (cue-, target-, and activation-based) were tested using prediction-of-knowing (POK) judgments. POK judgments reflect one's confidence level in correctly identifying newly learned material on a future memory task. To test which factor influences POKs the most, a "fan" paradigm (Anderson, 1974) was employed. Fan, or the number of facts associated with POK queried concepts, varied from one to three. Results of the four experiments indicated an inverse relationship between fan and POKs. As the level of fan increased, the magnitude of POKs decreased. This finding was observed even when the fan effect was attenuated on a verification task in three of the experiments by manipulating the organization of the multiple concepts. The results, then, supported and extended findings touting an activation account of metamemory judgments as embodied by the competition hypothesis (Schreiber, 1998; Schreiber & Nelson. 1998).