Automaticity of Basic-Level Categorization Accounts for Labeling Effects in Visual Recognition Memory

Vanderbilt University, PMB 407817, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-7817, USA.
Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.86). 07/2011; 37(6):1579-87. DOI: 10.1037/a0024347
Source: PubMed


Are there consequences of calling objects by their names? Lupyan (2008) suggested that overtly labeling objects impairs subsequent recognition memory because labeling shifts stored memory representations of objects toward the category prototype (representational shift hypothesis). In Experiment 1, we show that processing objects at the basic category level versus exemplar level in the absence of any overt labeling produces the same qualitative pattern of results. Experiment 2 demonstrates that labeling does not always disrupt memory as predicted by the representational shift hypothesis: Differences in memory following labeling versus preference are more likely an effect of judging preference, not an effect of overt labeling. Labeling does not influence memory by shifting memory representations toward the category prototype. Rather, labeling objects at the basic level produces memory representations that are simply less robust than those produced by other kinds of study tasks.

Download full-text


Available from: Jenn Richler, Mar 30, 2014
21 Reads
  • Source
    • "Participants less accurately remembered previously seen items if they had been categorically labeled, which was taken as evidence that the representation of the labeled objects was shifted—it no longer matched up to the originally perceived item. Other researchers (Richler et al., 2011; Blanco and Gureckis, 2013) have taken issue with this interpretation in terms of representational shift, instead suggesting that perceived items are remembered better because preference judgments require a greater depth of processing than category labeling. They introduced non-labeling conditions such as chair orientation (Blanco and Gureckis, 2013) and screen position (Richler et al., 2011) that only require superficial processing of the objects. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In four experiments, a total of 205 participants studied individual color patches and were given an old-new recognition test after a brief retention interval (0.5 or 5.0 s). The pattern of hue sensitivity (d') revealed hue memory shifting away from the prototype of the hue's basic color category. The shifts demonstrate that hue memory is influenced by categorization early in processing. The shifts did not depend on intentional categorization; the shifts were found even when participants made preference ratings at encoding rather than labeling judgments. Overall, we found that categorization and memory are deeply intertwined from perception onward. We discuss the impact of the results on theories of memory and categorization, including the effects of category labels on memory (e.g., Lupyan, 2008). We also put forward the hypothesis that atypical shifts in hue are related to atypical shifts that have previously observed in face recognition (Rhodes et al., 1987).
    Frontiers in Psychology 07/2014; 5:796. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00796 · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: What effect does labeling an object as a member of a familiar category have on memory for that object? Recent studies suggest that recognition memory can be negatively impacted by categorizing objects during encoding. This paper examines the "representational shift hypothesis" which argues that categorizing an object impairs recognition memory by altering the trace of the encoded memory to be more similar to the category prototype. Previous evidence for this idea comes from experiments in which a basic-level category labeling task was compared to a non-category labeling incidental encoding task, usually a preference judgment (e.g., "Do you like this item?"). In two experiments, we examine alternative tasks that attempt to control for processing demands and the degree to which category information is explicitly recruited at the time of study. Contrary to the predictions of the representational shift hypothesis, we find no evidence that memory is selectively impaired by category labeling. Overall, the pattern of results across both studies appears consistent with well-established variables known to influence memory such as encoding specificity and distinctiveness effects.
    Cognitive Processing 10/2012; 14(1). DOI:10.1007/s10339-012-0530-4 · 1.57 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Two recent lines of research suggest that explicitly naming objects at study influences subsequent memory for those objects at test. Lupyan (2008) suggested that naming impairs memory by a representational shift of stored representations of named objects toward the prototype (labeling effect). and suggested that naming enhances memory by influencing the distinctiveness of named objects (production effect). However, these studies cannot be directly compared because they differ in several procedural details such as the format of the naming task, composition of study objects from different categories, control task, and type of lures used at test. Here we systematically manipulate those factors to better understand how using object names influences visual recognition memory. When objects belonged to unique categories, vocal naming (as used in the production effect) produced comparable memory as a non-naming task (preference rating) and both produced significantly better memory than key-press naming (as used in the labeling effect). Naming objects at study only impaired memory relative to preference rating when objects belonged to one of two categories, a condition in which names have little or no distinctiveness. Theoretically, our results pose challenges to the representational shift account that proposes special mechanisms tied to the use of object names.
    Journal of Memory and Language 01/2013; 68(1):10–25. DOI:10.1016/j.jml.2012.09.001 · 4.24 Impact Factor
Show more