Figure 616

Mean word recall as a function of input cues (strong or weak) and output cues (strong or weak). Data from Thomson and Tulving (1970).

What does Tulving have to say about the relationship between recall and recognition? The general superiority of recognition over recall is accounted for in two ways. First, the overlap between the information contained in the memory test and that contained in the memory trace will typically be greater on a recognition test (the entire item is presented) than on a recall test. Second, Tulving (1983) argued that a greater amount of informational overlap is required for successful recall than for successful recognition. The reason is that recall involves naming a previous event, whereas recognition involves only a judgement of familiarity.

The encoding specificity principle also predicts that there should be cases in which items that cannot be recognised can be recalled (this is the phenomenon of recognition failure mentioned earlier). Tulving and Thomson (1973) obtained evidence of recognition failure using a complex four-stage design. In the first stage, participants were presented with weakly associated word pairs (e.g., "black-ENGINE") and instructed to learn the second word. In the second stage, they were told to produce associations to a strong associate of each to-be-remembered word (e.g., "steam"). In the third stage, they were asked whether they recognised any of the words generated as corresponding to list words (e.g., "engine" would normally have been generated). In the fourth stage, they were given the context words presented in the first stage (e.g., "black") and told to recall the to-be-remembered words. In many cases, the to-be-remembered words that were not recognised in stage three were recalled in stage four. Information about the context word (e.g., "black") was stored in the memory trace. Thus, the presentation of this word on the recall test (but not the recognition test) increased the overlap between test information and trace information for recall relative to recognition.

Evidence from the various recognition-failure studies (reviewed by Tulving & Flexser, 1992) indicates that recall performance depends much less on recognition performance than expected by two-process theory.

The Tulving-Wiseman function, showing in the solid line that there is only a limited relationship between recall and recognition performance (the broken line indicates what would happen if there were no relationship between recall and recognition). Adapted from Tulving and Flexser (1992).

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