The basic laboratory technique for studying distinctiveness effect in memory is the isolation paradigm, a simple test in which a list of items is presented for memorisation. All items except one are similar in some way. The different item always occurs late in the list, to allow the similarity of the precedingitems to establish a context. Subsequent memory for the different item is always better than for the similar items. In 1948, Jenkins and Postman offered the intuitive-differential attention explanation to account for this difference in memory, that an item is remembered because it catches the subject's attention by violating the established context, so leads the subject to devote additional processing to it. It is this additional processing that accounts for enhanced memory. Since 1948, succeeding theories have accepted and perpetuated their explanation. In fact, the isolation effect and the intuitive explanation have applied to most other memory phenomena that fall under the rubric of bizarreness, salience and novelty. The contributors to the proposed volume argue that the intuitive-differential-attention explanation and theories following from it are incorrect.
The purpose of the volume is to test these currently accepted theories by contrasting them with the results of current research on the processes supporting them. The result is a much needed restructuring of the theories.
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Author Biography - R. Reed Hunt
R. Reed Hunt received his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico and taught at Dartmouth College, Furman University, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro, before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Much of his research has been devoted to characterizing the psychological processes that are distinctiveness in memory. James B. Worthen received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology with emphases in cognition and social cognition from Texas Tech University in 1995. Dr. Worthen has held positions at Michigan Technological University and the University of Texas at Brownsville. He now teaches and conducts research at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also serves as the Director of the Graduate Program in Psychology.