Effects of elaboration and relational distinctiveness on sentence memory.

M. A. McDaniel, P. K. Dunay, B. J. Lyman, M. L. Kerwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Memory for normal and distinct target sentences in elaborated and isolated contexts was examined in two experiments. Distinctiveness was operationalized as the uniqueness of the stated relation among the elements (words) of the sentence. In both experiments distinct target sentences were recalled significantly better than normal target sentences. Robust elaboration effects emerged only in Experiment 2, however, when care was taken to construct elaborations that were causally related to the target sentences. Further, the positive mnemonic effects of elaboration in Experiment 2 combined additively with the distinctiveness effects. These results demonstrate that text manipulations emphasizing both relational distinctiveness and causal elaboration facilitate memory performance. Several possible theoretical mechanisms underlying this facilitation are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-369
Number of pages13
JournalThe American journal of psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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