Picture-perfect is not perfect for metamemory: testing the perceptual fluency hypothesis with degraded images

Besken, M.
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American Psychological Association

The perceptual fluency hypothesis claims that items that are easy to perceive at encoding induce an illusion that they will be easier to remember, despite the finding that perception does not generally affect recall. The current set of studies tested the predictions of the perceptual fluency hypothesis with a picture generation manipulation. Participants identified mixed lists of intact images and images whose certain parts were deleted (generate condition) and made predictions about their subsequent memory performance, followed by a recall test. The intact condition always produced higher memory predictions and shorter identification latencies than the generate condition, consistent with the perceptual fluency hypothesis (Experiments 1 to 3). The actual memory performance for generate images was higher than intact images when aggregate judgments of learning (JOLs) were used (Experiment 1) and equivalent to intact images when item-by-item JOLs were used (Experiment 2 to 3). In Experiment 3, introducing a manipulation that facilitates naming latency for generate images did not increase JOL ratings, providing evidence that not all manipulations that facilitate the ease of perception produce higher JOLs. In Experiment 4, the role of a priori beliefs for the picture generation manipulation was assessed through an online questionnaire. Reading a scenario about the manipulation produced no JOL differences for intact and generate images. The results of the 4 experiments reported here are generally consistent with the perceptual fluency hypothesis of metamemory, and are discussed in terms of experience-based and theory-based processes in metamemory judgments and Koriat’s (1997) cue utilization framework.

Generation, Memory, Metamemory, Perceptual fluency, Pictures