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Part-Set Cuing is Due to Strong, Not Weak, List Cues
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by Monica L. Boice and Gary J. Gargano*, - Saint Joseph's University
Research in memory on the part-set cuing paradigm has shown that the presentation of study list items as cues at retrieval impairs recall for the remaining items of the study list (e.g., Rundus, 1973). Subsequent research by Peynircioglu (1987) has indicated that the part-set cuing effect may also occur in nonmemory tasks. In Peynircioglu’s experiment, participants generated words from a larger source word. At retrieval, participants were provided with 0 or 8 exemplars as cues to help generate other words. The results indicated that fewer words were generated in the cued condition than in the noncued condition, suggesting that the mechanism producing the effect was similar to that found in traditional memory tasks (e.g., blocking, strategy disruption). The procedure in the present study was similar to Peynircioglu’s except participants generated exemplars from common conceptual categories (e.g., fruits). The number and popularity of cue words was manipulated. The results indicated that a part-set cuing effect occurred only when popular cues were provided. This finding suggests that the part-set cuing effect is due to the strength of the cue words and thus supports predictions made by blocking theory, which suggests that study list items with higher retrieval strength block access to study list items with weaker retrieval strength.