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Distinctiveness and Memory$
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R. Reed Hunt and James B. Worthen

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.001.0001

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Assessing Distinctiveness: Measures of Item-Specific and Relational Processing

Assessing Distinctiveness: Measures of Item-Specific and Relational Processing

Chapter:
(p.108) (p.109) 6 Assessing Distinctiveness: Measures of Item-Specific and Relational Processing
Source:
Distinctiveness and Memory
Author(s):

Daniel J. Burns

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.003.0006

Researchers are not in complete agreement on the matter of defining distinctiveness. Traditional definitions of distinctiveness point to the processing of non-overlapping attributes or features. Presumably, encoding of unique or item-specific attributes facilitates retention by increasing the discriminability of the item during retrieval. This definition essentially equates distinctiveness with the encoding of differences. More recently, however, some have come to view distinctiveness as the encoding of item-specific attributes in the context of relational cues. This latter definition implies that the distinctive benefits of item-specific processing will emerge only when they are encoded in the context of relational cues. Hence, the former definition assumes that distinctiveness results directly from item-specific processing or difference encoding, whereas the latter view suggests that distinctiveness is the combined result of item-specific and relational processing. This chapter discusses the current state of affairs regarding measures of item-specific and relational processing.

Keywords:   distinctiveness, memory, encoding, retrieval, retention, relational cues, relational processing, item-specific processing

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