Abstract

The relation between recall and recognition has been debated in various contexts, and researchers have asked whether these tasks lie on a single continuum depending on the type of retrieval cues or whether they represent distinctly different processes. In the current experiment, we considered the continuity hypothesis, which states that recall and recognition are different only in cue information available, and we asked whether retrieval experience during various tests can further inform the nature of this relationship. Participants studied lists of 5-letter words and were tested with either no overt cues (free recall) or with the first 2 letters, first 3 letters, first 4 letters, or all 5 letters (recognition) of a word as retrieval cues. We used the remember/know/guess paradigm and asked participants to report their retrieval experience to infer the underlying experiences of recollection and familiarity. Accuracy increased continuously as the number of letter cues increased. This continuity was reflected in experiences of recollection, but familiarity increased nonlinearly across cue conditions. Our results show some support for the continuity hypothesis; however, recall and recognition do differ in that recall relies more heavily on recollection, whereas recognition relies on both recollection and familiarity.

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