Memory bias toward normative and novel trait prototypes

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Abstract

The “prototype” of a set of exemplars is the most typical exemplar. The present recognition memory experiment with 22 undergraduates demonstrated memory bias toward both normative (previously learned) and novel prototypes. Lists of traits were presented during the acquisition and recognition phases. The lists varied in degree of similarity to a prototype list that was composed of either 6 positive traits (positive condition), 6 negative traits (negative condition), or 3 positive and 3 negative traits (novel condition). In each condition, the most typical exemplar of the set of acquisition lists was the prototype list, which was not presented during acquisition. As predicted, in all 3 conditions recognition confidence was a positive, linear function of similarity to the prototype list and was highest for the prototype list. Contrary to prediction, the slope of this linear “bias-toward-prototype” effect was not steeper in the 2 normative conditions (the positive and the negative conditions) than in the novel condition. Results suggest that prototype abstraction occurred and that a comparison-to-prototype process was an important determinant of recognition confidence. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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