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Distinctiveness and Memory$
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R. Reed Hunt and James B. Worthen

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.001.0001

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Reducing Memory Errors: The Distinctiveness Heuristic

Reducing Memory Errors: The Distinctiveness Heuristic

(p.89) 5 Reducing Memory Errors: The Distinctiveness Heuristic
Distinctiveness and Memory

Daniel L. Schacter

Amy L. Wiseman

Oxford University Press

The concept of distinctiveness has an extensive history in memory research. Numerous studies have revealed that the memory of an event benefits from a variety of manipulations that increase distinctive processing during encoding of that event, including surprising items that are incongruent with the prevailing context and various types of encoding tasks that focus attention on the properties of an item that distinguish it from others. It is perhaps less widely appreciated that distinctiveness can benefit subsequent memory in a related but different manner: by helping to avoid memory errors, such as misremembering the details of prior experiences, or falsely remembering events that did not occur. This chapter reviews recent research concerned with understanding how distinctiveness can help to reduce memory errors — specifically those involved in false recognition, where people claim that they have previously seen or heard a novel item or event. It focuses in particular on recent studies that have provided evidence for a memory-monitoring mechanism termed distinctiveness heuristic.

Keywords:   distinctiveness heuristic, distinctiveness, memory, memory errors, false recognition, encoding, memory monitoring

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