Chapter

The Concept of Distinctiveness in Memory Research

R. Reed Hunt

in Distinctiveness and Memory

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169669
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847563 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.003.0001
The Concept of Distinctiveness in Memory Research

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Intuitions often instigate important discoveries in psychology; but left unexamined, intuitions also can become an impediment to progress. Such seems to be the case for distinctiveness and memory, where both the data and theory are intuitive. Everyone knows that distinctive events are well remembered and everyone knows why. A distinctive event attracts attention, and the additional processing enhances memory. The intuitive theory rests on a broad operational definition of distinctiveness as an event that violates the prevailing context. In this definition, distinctiveness is a property of an event; it is essentially an independent variable. The ultimate effect of this independent variable, enhanced memory, results from extraordinary attention. This chapter offers an analysis of the term distinctiveness as it is used in memory research. It also reviews evidence showing that the isolation effect cannot be explained as the result of differential attention drawn by salience of the isolate.

Keywords: intuitions; distinctiveness; memory; intuitive theory; attention; isolation effect

Chapter.  9926 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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