Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Experimental Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Depue, Brendan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Decaro, Marci

Committee Member

Decaro, Marci

Committee Member

Hindy, Nicholas

Committee Member

Noles, Nicholaus

Author's Keywords

False memory; semantic association; DRM; pair


In the DRM paradigm, experience of semantically related words leads to false memories of related words called critical lures. These false memories serve as evidence that the relationship between items in a DRM list contribute to an overall gist or central concept for the experience. The present studies aim to investigate whether the higher-order semantic relationship that exists between different DRM lists can also influence recognition memory. Study 1 compared memory confidence ratings for list items and critical lures to two metrics: “Temporal Contiguity”, how closely in time lists appeared to each other at encoding, and “Semantic Distance”, the semantic association between lists. Findings suggest slight effects on alignment of confidence ratings when list are contiguous or related. In Study 2, participants were presented with pairs of lists, alternating between pairs with a high or low degree of semantic association. Subsequent tests of memory included list items, critical lures, paired lures generated using an LSA semantic generation tool. Findings indicate that confidence in list items is greater when the lists they belong to are strongly paired with another list, compared to list items for low-similarity pairings. Critical lures do not differ across semantic similarity conditions for either testing phase. Paired lures remain different between similarity conditions after delay. Findings indicate noticeable effects of list pairing on the strength and content of memory, and results are discussed in terms of their alignment with predictions according to two major theories for false memory, Fuzzy Trace Theory (FTT) and Activation/Monitoring Theory (AMT).