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.

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Available from: Jenn Richler, Mar 30, 2014
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    • "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. "
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