Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Cognitive Neuroscience


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Hockley

Advisor Role

Second author


In a set of six experiments, the relation between metacognition and associative memory was explored. The purpose was to determine whether the metacognitive behaviors that are used with item memory are also used with associative memory. Different memory systems have separate underlying processes which can cause mnemonic strategies to only be useful for some types of memory. People use metacognition to monitor and control their memory; however, it is uncertain whether metacognitive monitoring and control are the same for different types of memory. The research presented in this dissertation demonstrates the similarities and differences between metacognitive behavior for item and associative memory. In the first three experiments, presented in Chapter 2, several metamemory measures were explored including: Judgments of Learning (JOLs), Confidence Judgments (CJs), study time allocation, and response latencies. Each experiment used a different set of stimuli that are known to have different effects on associative recognition memory, this provided an opportunity to observe the outcome of the metacognitive measures under unique conditions. First, related and unrelated word pairs were recognized equally well, however related pairs had higher hit rates and higher false alarm rates compared to unrelated pairs. Participants allocated less study time to related word pairs because they were more confident in their ability to remember them than unrelated word pairs. Second, concrete word pairs had better discriminability, higher hit rates, but lower false alarm rates than abstract word pairs. Therefore, concreteness facilitated associative recognition memory, however participants showed no difference in confidence or study time allocation for concrete and abstract word pairs. Third, picture pairs had better discriminability, higher hit rates, but lower false alarm rates than unrelated word pairs. Similar to concreteness, these results showed that pictures facilitated associative recognition memory. ii Despite the benefits of pictures and concreteness, participants showed no difference in confidence for these types of stimuli which is theorized to be a result of differences in metacognitive beliefs. Unlike previous findings which showed that concreteness is believed to facilitate item memory, this belief does not apply to associative memory. In the second set of three experiments, presented in Chapter 3, procedural changes were made to facilitate study behavior. There were no changes in study behavior even after participants gained experience with the experimental procedure. Similarly, they did not incorporate the corrective feedback that they were given on their responses during the memory test into their study strategies. Lastly, JOLs for concrete word pairs were more accurate when they were collected after a short delay rather than immediately after each study pair. These experiments demonstrate a consistent pattern of study behavior that is difficult to change without explicit intervention. However, the finding that delaying the time when JOLs were collected had a positive effect on their accuracy suggests that useful strategies that have been found for item memory can similarly be useful for associative memory.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season