Remembering in and out of context

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Abstract

Three experiments with a total of 120 college students examined the incidental associations between list-learning material and the environmental context of that list's presentation. The environmental reinstatement effect is that Ss remember more when tested in their original learning environment relative to those tested in a new environmental context. Exp I demonstrated that this effect is due to a memory process, rather than a general performance decrement caused by the unfamiliarity of the new test room. The reinstatement effect was eliminated in Exp II when Ss tested in a new room were instructed to recall the original learning environment just prior to free recall of list words. This release from contextual dependence was diminished in Exp III when the original learning room was made more difficult to remember. Results show that context effects can be brought under cognitive control; Ss can supply their own contextual retrieval cues when the context can be easily recalled. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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