Recognition errors after incidental learning as a function of different levels of processing

Veronika Coltheart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Investigated, in 3 experiments with 163 undergraduates, the nature of false recognition errors made after incidental learning that required acoustic or semantic analysis. In 2 experiments Ss performed both types of orienting tasks; in the 3rd, each S completed only 1 task. Unexpected recognition tests for the words presented during incidental learning followed. The recognition test contained distractors acoustically or semantically similar to the target words and control distractors. Results show that the semantic orienting task led to better recognition of target words than the acoustic task, and words associated with a "yes" question were better remembered than words associated with "no." There was a significant incidence of false recognition of acoustically related and semantically related distractors relative to the false recognition of unrelated control distractors for both orienting tasks, but the pattern of false recognitions was partly dependent on whether an S performed 1 or 2 types of orienting tasks. It is concluded that the cognitive analysis required by the orienting task did not solely determine the constitution of the memory trace produced in incidental learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1977
Externally publishedYes


  • levels of processing, recognition errors after incidental learning, college students

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