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The Effects of Cue Content and Cue Repetition on Retrieval from Autobiographical Memory

  • Author / Creator
    Uzer Yildiz, Tugba
  • Autobiographical memories can be recalled through effortful memory search (i.e., generative retrieval). They can also come to mind spontaneously (i.e., direct retrieval). It has long been argued that personal memories are usually generated in word-cueing studies. However, recent research (Uzer, Lee & N. R. Brown, 2012) shows that direct retrieval of autobiographical memories, in response to word cues, is common. This encourages further investigation of the conditions which increase or decrease direct retrieval. In this thesis, I explore the ways different cueing conditions (i.e., specific versus generic cues, cue repetition) influence the frequency of directly retrieved autobiographical memories. In Experiment 1, participants retrieved memories in response to cues from their own life (e.g., the names of friends) and object terms (e.g., chair). In Experiment 2, participants provided their personal cues two or three months prior to coming to the lab. In Experiment 3 only person, location, activity and possession cues from the more distant past (i.e., from high school years) were elicited. Experiment 4 investigated how cue repetition impacts the prevalence of direct retrieval. Participants retrieved memories in response to each personal cue once, twice or three times. In all experiments, RT was measured and participants reported whether memories were directly retrieved or generated on each trial. The first three experiments showed that personal cues elicited a high rate of direct retrieval. Personal cues were more likely to elicit direct retrieval than object terms, and as a consequence, participants responded faster, on average, to the former than to the latter. Experiment 4 indicated that direct retrieval decreased as the number of cue repetitions increased. Cue repetition slowed down the memory search/generation process. In contrast, cue repetition did not affect direct retrieval. These results challenge the constructive view of autobiographical memory and suggest that autobiographical memories consist of pre-stored event representations, which are largely governed by associative mechanisms. A substantial reduction in direct retrieval with cue repetition implies that inhibitory processes also influence retrieval. These demonstrations offer theoretically interesting research directions such as exploring the role of interference versus inhibition in accessing memories. Finally, implications for selective use of memory are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2012-09
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3FM1G
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Brown, Norman R (Department of Psychology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Zivkovic, Marko (Department of Anthropology)
    • Barnier, Amanda (Department of Cognitive Science)
    • Brown, Norman R (Department of Psychology)
    • Caplan, Jeremy (Department of Psychology)
    • Dixon, Peter (Department of Psychology)