Reducing Memory Errors: The Distinctiveness Heuristic

Daniel L. Schacter and Amy L. Wiseman

in Distinctiveness and Memory

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169669
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847563 | DOI:
Reducing Memory Errors: The Distinctiveness Heuristic

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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

Chapter.  8788 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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