Lab Report: Mock Research Experiment: The Generation

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[. . .] For the recognition task, false alarm rates differed between the two test conditions. There was a false alarm rate of.13 in the generate test condition and.07 in the name test condition. To analyze this data, recognition performance was calculated by subtracting false alarm rates to new items from the hit rates to old items. These numbers are known as the proportion of recognition (Pr) and their data supported the generation effect. Recognition was better for generated items than it was for named items. However, this generation effect was only found when the generated item was reinstated during the test.

For the complete/incomplete task, again recognition performance was again calculated using the same equation as in the recognition task for Pr. However, in this experiment there were two different types of false alarms. Subjects could classify a new item as complete or incomplete instead of new. It was found that subjects tended to call new items incomplete. Again, the results were similar. There was a generation effect found that contributed to enhanced recall for generated items, however, this effect was only found when the generation context was the method of test recall.

Like in the first experiment, the first set of data to analyze is the identification rates during the test study which were 55% correct for generated pictures and 97% correct for named pictures. This data is also very comparable to the identification rates of the first experiment.

The word phase test had similar findings. Again following the same equations as in the previous phase, Pr was used as a measure to determine the data and recognition of memory. The data from this experiment is lengthy and there are several important results from this data. Firstly, it showed superior memory for generated pictures over named pictures in both the recognition task and complete/incomplete task, however, no superiority was reported in the success/failure task. Secondly it was found that the magnitude of the overall generation effect was bigger in the complete/incomplete judgment task than in the recognition task. No generation effect was illustrated in the success/failure task from this data. Third, analysis of each of the tasks differed greatly. For the recognition task, accuracy for correctly generated pictures was higher than accuracy for correctly named pictures. For the complete/incomplete task, accuracy for not generated pictures was higher than accuracy for correctly generated pictures. And for the success/failure task, accuracy was higher for correctly generated pictures than for named pictures and not generated pictures (Richards 2000). Lastly, it is also important to note that the magnitude of the generation effect between phases one and two was compared for both the recognition and complete/incomplete tasks. The data from the Pr values showed that indeed there was a significantly larger generation effect in the first experiment than in the second.

Each of these results offers its own unique insight into the generation effect. More importantly when these results are interpreted to the next level, a more focused analysis can be made of the generation effect and also on its effect for pictorial stimuli


The substantial finding from experiment one illustrates the notion that indeed the generation effect does occur for pictures. A significant generation effect was demonstrated through the free recall testing. Also, it was observed that indeed this generation effect held constant regardless of test order. Furthermore, it was also discovered that the generation effect was obtained in both the recognition and the source-monitoring task. However, this only occurred when the generation context of the study condition was replicated in the test condition. Therefore, this result does not concur with previous experiments which showed a greater generation effect for recognition rather than recall. Since recognition performance was higher for the name/name condition (the latter referring to the study condition and the former to test condition) than it was for the generate/generate condition it can be interpreted that there is some difference in the generation effect between words and pictures, at least for recognition. A possible explanation for this maybe that pictures have a superior sensory code than words which thus gives a sensory match advantage that would be helpful in the recognition task. For words, the subject would only be able to rely on the semantic elaboration of the generation effect. This large recognition advantage in the name/name condition may mask generation effect. Finally, another finding from the experiment showed that the complete/incomplete memory task was more difficult than the recognition task. This effect could be demonstrated both by increased accuracy and decreased reaction time for the recognition task. It is possible to attribute this occurs because this task requires subjects to focus on the encoded sensory features of the pictures. And so in conclusion, the important universal interpretation of this experiment is the appearance of a generation effect for picture stimuli and also the potential masking of this generation effect from the sensory features of the pictures which occurred in the name/name condition. An important question thus to consider is if indeed this masking could be eliminated (Medger 2001).

Interpreting the data from this second phase yields a more detailed and in-depth look at the generation effect. To fully analyze the experiment each piece of datum should be carefully explored. First, it is important to start by saying that in the second phase the standard generation effect for generated pictures was obtained in the recognition task. This finding supports the hypothesis that indeed the generation effect can occur for pictures. Another thing to consider is the disparity of patterns that emerged from each of the three tasks. A possible explanation for this disparity is simply that each memory task activated different aspects of a memory trace for each of the three tasks. Thus, different patterns of results were produced. In comparing the results of each of the source monitoring tasks, it is also possible to discern some of the factors which influence the generation effect. The complete/incomplete task tested the hypothesis that the generation effect was caused by the extra sensory activation involved in the pictures since sensory information would be required to identify an image as complete or incomplete. Whereas, the success/failure task tested the hypothesis that the generation effect is more a result of semantics from deeper and more elaborate cognitive operations involved to complete this task. The findings of the experiment showed that in the complete/incomplete task, the generation effect occurred because subjects were better able to remember the incompleteness of pictures and in the success/failure task subjects remembered their successes over their weaknesses. The magnitude of the generation effect was found to be larger in the complete/incomplete task. This leads one to believe that the sensory information has more of an influence on the generation effect. However the data also showed that the effort to identify incomplete pictures without successful identification will not be sufficient to produce a generation effect. This piece of evidence supports a multi-factor theory that says the generation effect is caused by both sensory and semantic information. Finally, the reduction across phases one and two gives credence to the vitality of sensory information in the generation effect. As when, the pictures were replaced with words in the test condition the generation effect dwindled.

Kinjo, H. & Snodgrass, J.G. (2000). Does the generation effect occur for pictures? American Journal of Psychology, 113, 95-119.

Medger, F (2001). The generation effect and words. American Journal of Pschology, 116, 78-90.

Richards, M (2000). What scientists know about the generation effect. Psychology Today; Jan 43-57.

Niles, G (1999). The generation effect: studies and sources. Journal of Psychology, 56, 45067.

Huffman, R (2000). Generation effect and its… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Mock Research Experiment: The Generation.  (2002, September 24).  Retrieved July 18, 2019, from

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"Mock Research Experiment: The Generation."  24 September 2002.  Web.  18 July 2019. <>.

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"Mock Research Experiment: The Generation."  September 24, 2002.  Accessed July 18, 2019.