The effect of semantic and nonsemantic factors on the integration of verbal units in recognition memory

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Conducted 3 experiments with 101 undergraduate and graduate students to separate the contributions of semantic and nonsemantic factors to recognition-memory errors. In previous research, nonsemantic factors were found to be responsible for an integration effect; that is, compound words are falsely recognized as having occurred as compounds when in fact their constituents have been presented as separate words. In the present research, nonsemantic aspects of the effect were demonstrated under more stringent conditions, and in addition, both correlational- and experimental-level evidence indicated that semantic factors contributed to the magnitude of the effect. Semantic factors were implicated in that constituents rated closer in meaning to their compounds resulted in more integrations. When modifiers were applied to the constituents to orient Ss either toward or away from the compound's meaning, the effect was increased or decreased, respectively. The integration effect is interpreted in terms of a frequency mechanism that operates independently on semantic and nonsemantic aspects of verbal units. (9 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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