The role of ease of retrieval and attribution in memory judgments: Judging your memory as worse despite recalling more events

Explored how the ease or difficulty with which material can be brought into mind in a free recall task influences more general metamemory judgments by manipulating recall difficulty. It was predicted that Ss would rate their memory as worse after successfully retrieving many childhood events than after retrieving a few events, in contrast to what the actual number of recalled events would imply. Of 142 college students, those who recalled 12 childhood events on a memory questionnaire were more likely to infer that they could not remember large parts of their childhood than participants who had to recall 4 events, although the former recalled 3 times as many events. This pattern of results suggests that memory judgments are based on the experienced ease or difficulty of recall. Accordingly, the negative impact of recalling 12 events was attenuated when participants were led to attribute the experienced difficulty to the task rather than to the poor quality of their memory. The findings emphasize the role of subjective experiences and attribution in metamemory judgments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)