Judgments of Learning Enhance Recall for Category-Cued but not Letter-Cued Items
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Description: Making immediate judgments of learning (JOLs) during study influence later memory performance, with a common outcome being that JOLs improve cued-recall performance for related word pairs (i.e., positive reactivity) and do not impact memory for unrelated pairs (i.e., no reactivity). The cue-strengthening hypothesis proposes that JOL reactivity will be observed when a criterion test is sensitive to the cues used to inform JOLs (Soderstrom et al., 2015; J Expt Psych: Learn, Mem, Cogn). Across four experiments, we evaluated this hypothesis with novel material: category-cued items (e.g., A type of gem–Jade) and letter-cued items (e.g., Ja – Jade). Participants studied a list comprised of both pair types and did (or did not) make JOLs and then completed a cued-recall test (Experiments 1a/b). Consistent with predictions from the cue-strengthening hypothesis, positive reactivity occurred for category pairs and no reactivity occurred for letter pairs. We also evaluated and ruled out alternative explanations for this pattern of effects: (a) that they arose due to overall differences in recall performance for the two pair types (Experiment 2), (b) that they would also occur even when the processing at encoding does not match requirements of the criterion test (Experiment 3), and (c) that JOLs increased memory strength for the targets (Experiment 4). Thus, the current experiments rule out plausible accounts of reactivity effects and provide further, converging evidence for the cue-strengthening hypothesis.