Cognitive Effort Requirements in Recall, Recognition, and Lexical Decision
Technical rept. Nov 1983-Jun 1984
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
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Cognitive effort requirements during study for free recall e.g., essay-type test, recognition e.g., multiple choice-type test, and an incidental learning task e.g., wordnonword decisions were assessed using a secondary reaction time task. Auditory probes were presented while individuals studied familiar or unfamiliar words and the time to respond to these probes was measured. Differences in latency scores provided information about the amount of cognitive effort expended during study for these memory tasks. Recall and recognition were tested to determine the relationship between cognitive effort requirements during study and later ability to remember studied items. Overall, the results of this research indicate that when individuals expect a recall test they use extensive or difficult processing operations which may involve elaborating the meaning of studied items. In contrast, when they expect a recognition test they use more superficial processing operations with less emphasis on meaning.