Increased meaning elaboration does not account for the picture superiority effect
Jeans, David D. C.
Master of Arts
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Study manipulated meaning process at study (congruent/incongruent meaning questions vs. no questions) and study/test form (picture or word at study crossed with picture or word at test). Particpants were 72 psychology students at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario.A striking characteristic of episodic memory is that memory is better for pictures than words—the picture superiority effect (Paivio, 1971). While evidence in support of past explanations (e.g., dual-coding and sensory semantic models) has been inconsistent, a growing body of behavioural (e.g.. Potter & Faulconer, 1975; Smith & Magee, 1980) and neurological (Grady et al., 1998) evidence points to superior processing of meaning, which is generally associated with pictorial presentations, as a major source of the pictorial superiority effect The results of the present study—which manipulated meaning processing at study (congruent/incongruent meaning questions vs. no questions) and study/test form (picture or word at study crossed with picture or word at test)—revealed that when potential ceiling problems of previous studies (e.g., Durso & Johnson, 1980; Emmerich & Ackerman, 1979) are controlled, meaning elaboration 1) reduces, but does not eliminate, picture superiority in Yes/No Recognition responses, 2) does not affect the advantage of pictures over words in Remember (e.g., Tulving, 1985) responses but may affect Know responses, and 3) does not affect the advantage of pictures over words in Source Memory (e.g., Durso & Johnson, 1980) responses. Moreover, because the benefits of reinstating the study form at test were as large for words as for pictures—for recognition, remember, and source responses—the results imply that the processing of pictures cannot be treated as including processing in common with words with the addition of picture specific processing. Rather, the processing of pictures and words must result in equally unique sources of information that differ in terms of their overall memorability.