Priming in Recognition Memory for Categorized Lists

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research on primed recognition of categorized lists has shown two discrepant patterns of results, for which there has not been a conclusive explanation. Sometimes rejection of negative recognition test items (lures) was inhibited as a consequence of semantic priming, whereas at other times processing of negative test items was facilitated. This article investigates the reasons for that discrepancy by focusing on the differences between the tasks used to effect priming in the various previous studies. The first two experiments in this paper showed that lure processing is facilitated when priming is achieved through another recognition test item, whereas inhibition is obtained if a semantic category judgment task is performed on the priming items. Thus, both patterns can be reproduced under nearly identical circumstances, with the type of prime processing being the only difference. Two additional experiments are reported that served to generalize the inhibition found in the second experiment to other semantic priming tasks. The data show that the type of processing done on the prime determines whether inhibition or facilitation of lure rejection is obtained. Inhibition is obtained when a semantic task is used to prime a recognition judgment, whereas facilitation results from priming with an episodic task. The results are interpreted in the framework of the semantic/episodic distinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-574
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1986
Externally publishedYes


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