Chapter

Assessing Distinctiveness: Measures of Item-Specific and Relational Processing

Daniel J. Burns

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/9780195169669.003.0006
Assessing Distinctiveness: Measures of Item-Specific and Relational Processing

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Researchers are not in complete agreement on the matter of defining distinctiveness. Traditional definitions of distinctiveness point to the processing of non-overlapping attributes or features. Presumably, encoding of unique or item-specific attributes facilitates retention by increasing the discriminability of the item during retrieval. This definition essentially equates distinctiveness with the encoding of differences. More recently, however, some have come to view distinctiveness as the encoding of item-specific attributes in the context of relational cues. This latter definition implies that the distinctive benefits of item-specific processing will emerge only when they are encoded in the context of relational cues. Hence, the former definition assumes that distinctiveness results directly from item-specific processing or difference encoding, whereas the latter view suggests that distinctiveness is the combined result of item-specific and relational processing. This chapter discusses the current state of affairs regarding measures of item-specific and relational processing.

Keywords: distinctiveness; memory; encoding; retrieval; retention; relational cues; relational processing; item-specific processing

Chapter.  8821 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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