Changing environmental context does not reliably affect memory

Angel Fernandez, Arthur Glenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

108 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most current theories of human memory propose that context, defined here as the time and place at which an event was experienced, forms an integral feature of the mnemonic representation of events. One way of investigating context is by manipulating the environmental context (which typically means the room in which the experiment takes place). The predominant result of this manipulation reported in the literature has been consistent with theory: Memory performance is better when the learning and testing environments are the same than when they differ. This article reports eight experiments that in aggregate challenge the reliability of this same-context advantage. Experiment 1 reported a failure to obtain a same-context advantage. Experiments 2-7 investigated various features of the design that might have reduced the effect. None of these experiments produced a reliable same-context advantage. Experiment 8 repeated the methodology of a published report of a same-context advantage with more than double the number of subjects, but failed to replicate the effect. An analysis of features of the experiments led to two suggestions for future investigations of the effects of changes in environmental context on memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-345
Number of pages13
JournalMemory & Cognition
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1985
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Learning
Experiment
Methodology
Manipulation
Mnemonics
Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Changing environmental context does not reliably affect memory. / Fernandez, Angel; Glenberg, Arthur.

In: Memory & Cognition, Vol. 13, No. 4, 07.1985, p. 333-345.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{22a1c45e740c4340bcbe7dc769af3a6c,
title = "Changing environmental context does not reliably affect memory",
abstract = "Most current theories of human memory propose that context, defined here as the time and place at which an event was experienced, forms an integral feature of the mnemonic representation of events. One way of investigating context is by manipulating the environmental context (which typically means the room in which the experiment takes place). The predominant result of this manipulation reported in the literature has been consistent with theory: Memory performance is better when the learning and testing environments are the same than when they differ. This article reports eight experiments that in aggregate challenge the reliability of this same-context advantage. Experiment 1 reported a failure to obtain a same-context advantage. Experiments 2-7 investigated various features of the design that might have reduced the effect. None of these experiments produced a reliable same-context advantage. Experiment 8 repeated the methodology of a published report of a same-context advantage with more than double the number of subjects, but failed to replicate the effect. An analysis of features of the experiments led to two suggestions for future investigations of the effects of changes in environmental context on memory.",
author = "Angel Fernandez and Arthur Glenberg",
year = "1985",
month = "7",
doi = "10.3758/BF03202501",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "13",
pages = "333--345",
journal = "Memory and Cognition",
issn = "0090-502X",
publisher = "Springer New York",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Changing environmental context does not reliably affect memory

AU - Fernandez, Angel

AU - Glenberg, Arthur

PY - 1985/7

Y1 - 1985/7

N2 - Most current theories of human memory propose that context, defined here as the time and place at which an event was experienced, forms an integral feature of the mnemonic representation of events. One way of investigating context is by manipulating the environmental context (which typically means the room in which the experiment takes place). The predominant result of this manipulation reported in the literature has been consistent with theory: Memory performance is better when the learning and testing environments are the same than when they differ. This article reports eight experiments that in aggregate challenge the reliability of this same-context advantage. Experiment 1 reported a failure to obtain a same-context advantage. Experiments 2-7 investigated various features of the design that might have reduced the effect. None of these experiments produced a reliable same-context advantage. Experiment 8 repeated the methodology of a published report of a same-context advantage with more than double the number of subjects, but failed to replicate the effect. An analysis of features of the experiments led to two suggestions for future investigations of the effects of changes in environmental context on memory.

AB - Most current theories of human memory propose that context, defined here as the time and place at which an event was experienced, forms an integral feature of the mnemonic representation of events. One way of investigating context is by manipulating the environmental context (which typically means the room in which the experiment takes place). The predominant result of this manipulation reported in the literature has been consistent with theory: Memory performance is better when the learning and testing environments are the same than when they differ. This article reports eight experiments that in aggregate challenge the reliability of this same-context advantage. Experiment 1 reported a failure to obtain a same-context advantage. Experiments 2-7 investigated various features of the design that might have reduced the effect. None of these experiments produced a reliable same-context advantage. Experiment 8 repeated the methodology of a published report of a same-context advantage with more than double the number of subjects, but failed to replicate the effect. An analysis of features of the experiments led to two suggestions for future investigations of the effects of changes in environmental context on memory.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0022097042&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0022097042&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3758/BF03202501

DO - 10.3758/BF03202501

M3 - Article

VL - 13

SP - 333

EP - 345

JO - Memory and Cognition

JF - Memory and Cognition

SN - 0090-502X

IS - 4

ER -