Item-specific and relational processing both improve recall accuracy in the DRM paradigm.

Mark Jordan Huff, Glen Edward Bodner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm, Huff and Bodner found that both item-specific and relational variants of a task improved correct recognition, but only the item-specific variants reduced false recognition, relative to a read-control condition. Here, we examined the outcome pattern when memory was tested using free recall, using the same item-specific versus relational task variants across three experiments as our previous study (processing instructions, pleasantness ratings, anagram generation). The outcome pattern in recall was similar to recognition, except relational processing at study actually reduced the DRM illusion, though not as much as item-specific processing. To reconcile this task difference, we suggest that the memory information laid down during relational encoding enhances the familiarity of the critical items at test. To the extent that familiarity is used less as a basis for responding in free recall than in recognition, relational processing ironically reduces rather than increases the DRM illusion in recall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1493-1506
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • free recall
  • distinctiveness
  • relational processing
  • Item-specific processing


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