Receiver-operating characteristics in recognition memory: evidence for a dual-process model

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1994 Nov;20(6):1341-54. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.20.6.1341.


Evidence is presented that recognition judgments are based on an assessment of familiarity, as is described by signal detection theory, but that a separate recollection process also contributes to performance. In 3 receiver-operating characteristics (ROC) experiments, the process dissociation procedure was used to examine the contribution of these processes to recognition memory. In Experiments 1 and 2, reducing the length of the study list increased the intercept (d') but decreased the slope of the ROC and increased the probability of recollection but left familiarity relatively unaffected. In Experiment 3, increasing study time increased the intercept but left the slope of the ROC unaffected and increased both recollection and familiarity. In all 3 experiments, judgments based on familiarity produced a symmetrical ROC (slope = 1), but recollection introduced a skew such that the slope of the ROC decreased.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Vocabulary