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ERIC Number: EJ1056000
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Nov
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
The Shape of Things to Come: Evaluating Word Frequency as a Continuous Variable in Recognition Memory
Hemmer, Pernille; Criss, Amy H.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n6 p1947-1952 Nov 2013
The role of experience in memory, specifically the word frequency (WF) mirror effect showing higher hit rates and lower false alarm rates for low-frequency words, is one of the hallmarks of memory. However, this "regularity of memory" is limited because normative WF has been treated as discrete (low vs. high). We evaluate the extent to which the prototypical WF mirror effect holds when WF is treated as a continuous variable. We find a clear nonmonotonic U-shaped relationship. Hit rates are higher for both low-frequency and high-frequency words. Linear and quadratic regression models were fit to the data at both the item and the participant level, and the quadratic model provided a better fit at both levels. This finding is inconsistent with the empirical and theoretical finding of a mirror effect and requires a novel approach to accounting for the role of experience in episodic memory.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: 0951612