Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Program Name/Specialization

Cognitive Neuroscience

Faculty/School

Faculty of Science

First Advisor

William E. Hockley

Advisor Role

PhD Advisor

Abstract

Unitization refers to when two components are integrated or combined into a single unit. So the whole is more familiar than the parts (Graf & Schacter, 1989). Previous researchers have shown unitization of unrelated word pairs can occur by the use of compound definition. As support, they have found unitization to increase reliance on familiarity in associative recognition. The purpose of this PhD dissertation was to examine the effects of unitization of preexperimental associations on associative recognition. The effects of associative recognition of unitized compound word (CW) pairs can serve as a useful benchmark to compare to that of other methods of unitization. In Chapter 2, I present findings from Manuscript 1 consisting of five experiments in which I investigated the effects of unitization of CW pairs on associative recognition. In Experiment 1, I found a CW effect as in higher hit rates and false alarm rates for CW compared to noncompound word (NCW) pairs. In addition, there was no discrimination difference between CW and NCW pairs. In Experiments 2a and 2b, I show from both a non-speeded and speeded forced-choice test that when response bias is minimized, participants show a discrimination advantage for CW pairs. In Experiments 3a and 3b, I show that item recognition is reduced for CW compared to NCW pairs, but when components of the CW and NCW pairs are emphasized at encoding, similar item recognition is shown for both pair types. Lastly, in Experiment 5, I show from receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves that there is a discrimination advantage for repeated NCW pairs compared to CW and NCW pairs. In Chapter 3, I present findings from Manuscript 2 consisting of three experiments in which I investigated the effects of unitization of CW pairs on associative recognition in older adults. In Experiment 1, older adults showed a discrimination advantage for CW pairs. Moreover, when presentation time was reduced young adults still did not show a discrimination advantage for CW pairs. Finally, in Experiment 3, I found both young and older adults showed a discrimination advantage for CW pairs in the forced-choice test. Thus, unitization of CW pairs benefited older adults because of ease of encoding and allowing increased use of familiarity during recognition. In addition, test format influences younger adults’ use of familiarity. Lastly, in Chapter 4, I present findings from Manuscript 3 consisting of three experiments examining whether processing fluency of unitized CW pairs was associated with the greater use of familiarity. In Experiment 1, minimizing perceptual fluency did not influence the CW effect. In Experiment 2B, I found there was no difference in CW effect between the more conceptual fluent transparent CW than opaque CW pairs. In conclusion, I show there are many effects of unitization of preexperimental associations on associative recognition and there are a number of factors that can determine if there is a benefit of unitization to associative memory. The results provide a set of benchmarks that can be used in the evaluation of different procedures designed to unitize random word pairs.

Convocation Year

2015

Convocation Season

Spring