Contributions of Metaknowledge to Retrieval of Natural Categories in Semantic Memory

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Abstract

Retrieving the answer to a general knowledge question has been shown to involve two metacognitive processes—a feeling-of-knowing that initiates the search of long-term memory and a willingness to continue searching until an answer can be confidently stated. To extend this model, college students were asked to retrieve as many members of 2 natural categories as they could in 1 min. Examination of the points at which they switched categories revealed that they searched longer in categories of higher potency, and they switched earlier when the other category was of higher potency. They also searched the first category longer when they were allowed to switch only once during a trial rather than as often as they wished. It was concluded that feeling-of-knowing maintained search of a category and also contributed to the willingness to continue searching, and the constraint on switching impacted the willingness to continue.

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