Chapter

Distinctiveness and Memory: Comments and a Point of View

Fergus I. M. Craik

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/9780195169669.003.0019
Distinctiveness and Memory: Comments and a Point of View

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Reed Hunt remarked that whereas it seems intuitively obvious that distinctive events are well remembered simply because we pay more attention to them, this commonsense analysis may conceal more complex truths. This chapter weighs Hunt's remark in light of the data and arguments presented in the book, surveys the various points of view, and assesses the degree to which there is agreement on the role of distinctiveness in memory. In addition to distinctiveness, this book has analyzed isolation, inconsistency, incongruity, novelty, salience, bizarreness, and significance, among others. Primary distinctiveness includes isolation effects (also known as the von Restorff effect)—in general, situations in which expectancy for the next event is violated. Secondary distinctiveness includes cases in which the event is incongruent relative to a person's general knowledge or beliefs about that class of events. A significant event will attract attention, reflection, and elaborate processing regardless of whether it is anomalous in the local context, and regardless of whether it was expected.

Keywords: distinctiveness; memory; isolation; inconsistency; incongruity; novelty; bizarreness; isolation effects; attention; salience

Chapter.  8208 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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