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The benefits of impossible tests: assessing the role of error-correction in the pretesting effect

The benefits of impossible tests: assessing the role of error-correction in the pretesting effect
The benefits of impossible tests: assessing the role of error-correction in the pretesting effect
Relative to studying alone, guessing the meanings of unknown words can improve later recognition of their meanings, even if those guesses were incorrect - the pretesting effect (PTE). The error-correction hypothesis suggests that incorrect guesses produce error signals that promote memory for the meanings when they are revealed. The current research sought to test the error-correction explanation of the PTE. In three experiments, participants studied unfamiliar Finnish-English word pairs by either studying each complete pair, or by guessing the English translation before its presentation. In the latter case, the participants also guessed which of two categories the word belonged to. Hence, guesses from the correct category were semantically closer to the true translation than guesses from the incorrect category. In Experiment 1, guessing increased subsequent recognition of the English translations, especially for translations that were presented on trials in which the participants’ guesses were from the correct category. Experiment 2 replicated these target recognition effects while also demonstrating that they do not extend to associative recognition performance. Experiment 3 again replicated the target recognition pattern, while also examining participants’ metacognitive recognition judgments. Participants correctly judged that their memory would be better after small than after large errors, but incorrectly believed that making any errors would be detrimental, relative to study-only. Overall, the data are inconsistent with the error-correction hypothesis; small, within-category errors produced better recognition than large, cross-category errors. Alternative theories, based on elaborative encoding and motivated learning, are considered.
0090-502X
Seabrooke, Tina
bf0d9ea5-8cf7-494b-9707-891762fce6c3
Mitchell, Chris J.
348942ac-ea98-494d-ba4c-21e85273575a
Wills, Andy J.
ac3dacc2-7918-47e9-9b4f-bbfde29a4ebf
Inkster, Angus
635c6ec4-7aa7-43d9-9de0-9a4c3013e040
Hollins, Timothy J.
6717fa83-d36f-4b16-b5f8-129478f6ac50
Seabrooke, Tina
bf0d9ea5-8cf7-494b-9707-891762fce6c3
Mitchell, Chris J.
348942ac-ea98-494d-ba4c-21e85273575a
Wills, Andy J.
ac3dacc2-7918-47e9-9b4f-bbfde29a4ebf
Inkster, Angus
635c6ec4-7aa7-43d9-9de0-9a4c3013e040
Hollins, Timothy J.
6717fa83-d36f-4b16-b5f8-129478f6ac50

Seabrooke, Tina, Mitchell, Chris J., Wills, Andy J., Inkster, Angus and Hollins, Timothy J. (2021) The benefits of impossible tests: assessing the role of error-correction in the pretesting effect. Memory & Cognition. (doi:10.3758/s13421-021-01218-6).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Relative to studying alone, guessing the meanings of unknown words can improve later recognition of their meanings, even if those guesses were incorrect - the pretesting effect (PTE). The error-correction hypothesis suggests that incorrect guesses produce error signals that promote memory for the meanings when they are revealed. The current research sought to test the error-correction explanation of the PTE. In three experiments, participants studied unfamiliar Finnish-English word pairs by either studying each complete pair, or by guessing the English translation before its presentation. In the latter case, the participants also guessed which of two categories the word belonged to. Hence, guesses from the correct category were semantically closer to the true translation than guesses from the incorrect category. In Experiment 1, guessing increased subsequent recognition of the English translations, especially for translations that were presented on trials in which the participants’ guesses were from the correct category. Experiment 2 replicated these target recognition effects while also demonstrating that they do not extend to associative recognition performance. Experiment 3 again replicated the target recognition pattern, while also examining participants’ metacognitive recognition judgments. Participants correctly judged that their memory would be better after small than after large errors, but incorrectly believed that making any errors would be detrimental, relative to study-only. Overall, the data are inconsistent with the error-correction hypothesis; small, within-category errors produced better recognition than large, cross-category errors. Alternative theories, based on elaborative encoding and motivated learning, are considered.

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Accepted/In Press date: 19 July 2021
Published date: 6 August 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450532
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450532
ISSN: 0090-502X
PURE UUID: ae7608c9-51e0-441e-9308-673e16a6f6a5
ORCID for Tina Seabrooke: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4119-8389

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Date deposited: 03 Aug 2021 16:31
Last modified: 16 Nov 2021 03:05

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Contributors

Author: Tina Seabrooke ORCID iD
Author: Chris J. Mitchell
Author: Andy J. Wills
Author: Angus Inkster
Author: Timothy J. Hollins

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