Retrospective Memory

Organizational processing refers to thinking about or attending to the similarities among to-be-remembered information (e.g., the words in a list).  Distinctive processing refers to thinking about or attending to the differences among to-be-remembered information.  Research has shown that both types of processing benefit memory, and in fact, the combination of both types of processing may produce better memory than either type alone.  I am interested in applying this distinction to a variety of different issues in memory research.

One such research interest is the generation-recognition model of recall.  According to this model, when people recall information from memory, they do so according to a two-stage process.  First, they generate possible candidates for recall, and then they try to recognize the generated candidates as having been previously encountered or not.  Those candidates that are both generated and recognized are then recalled; the candidates that are generated but not recognized are not recalled.  Within this research domain, I am interested in understanding when the generation-recognition model can account for recall versus when it does not, as well as the role of organization and distinctiveness in the processes of generation and recognition.

Another such research interest is collaborative inhibition in memory, which can occur when a group of individuals works together to try to remember information.  It is revealed in the laboratory by having individuals try to remember information on their own versus having individuals try to remember information in collaboration with others.  The usual finding is that memory performance for the groups (averaged across all groups) is better than the memory performance for the individuals (averaged across all individuals).  Collaborative inhibition is revealed by creating “nominal” groups from the individuals.  That is, after the individuals have recalled what they remember, the individuals are divided into after-the-fact groups and the group is given credit for what was recalled by the individuals.  Then, the performance of the nominal groups (people who didn’t work together to recall, but whose output was nonetheless combined as if they were a group) is compared to the performance of the collaborative groups mentioned above.  Performance of the nominal groups is often better than that of the collaborative groups (i.e., collaborative inhibition), suggesting there is something about collaborating with others that interferes with or otherwise impairs remembering.  Within this research domain, I am interested in evaluating the different possible explanations for why collaborative inhibition occurs, as well as the factors that increase and decrease the extent to which it occurs.