We sought to systematically investigate how participants subjectively classify the basis of their recognition memory judgments for low and high word frequency items. We found that participants more often reported rejection processes related to the increased perceived memorability for unstudied low word frequency items (relative to high word frequency items), rather than classifying their decision on a lack of familiarity. Experiment 2 replicated this pattern and demonstrated context variability and word frequency independently influenced the subjective classifications for correct rejections. Results of Experiment 3 revealed that these differences are dependent upon having experience with both low and high frequency items. Overall, these data suggest participants' rejection of low frequency items is more strongly related to judgments of perceived memorability, but only when they are presented in the context of high frequency items. The results are discussed in relation to distinctiveness and expected memorability.
- Recognition memory
- Rejection processes
- Word frequency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology