A procedural explanation of the generation effect for simple and difficult multiplication problems and answers

Danielle S. McNamara, Alice F. Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Three experiments investigated the generation effect for the free recall of multiplication problems and answers. In Experiment 1, a greater generation effect for answer recall was found for participants presented with simple as compared to those presented with difficult multiplication problems. This finding is inconsistent with an explanation of the generation effect in terms of effort. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 and further demonstrated that participants show an equivalent generation effect for problem operands (i.e., the cues) regardless of problem difficulty. Generation accuracy also influenced the magnitude of the generation effect in the difficult problem condition. Experiment 3 replicated the results of Experiment 1, holding constant problem answers across simple and difficult problems. These experiments collectively demonstrated a generation effect for the answers to arithmetic problems only when participants reinstated at test the cognitive procedures used at study, thus providing further evidence for the procedural account of the generation effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-679
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes



  • Generation effect; procedural reinstatement; multiplication problem difficulty; arithmetic; cognitive procedures; memory; retrieval; effort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

Cite this