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  • Writer's pictureDillon Murphy

Does point value structure influence measures of memory selectivity?

Updated: Aug 16, 2023


Memory_Murphy, 2023
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Does point value structure influence measures of memory selectivity?

Dillon H. Murphy


In reward-based learning and value-directed remembering, many different value structures for the to-be-remembered information have been used by researchers. I was interested in whether different scoring structures used in a value-directed remembering task impact measures of memory selectivity. Participants studied lists of words paired with point values and some lists included words paired with values ranging from 1 to 20, 1 to 10 (repeating twice), either a high value (10 points) or a low value (1 point), and either a high value (10 points), a medium value (5 points) or a low value (1 point). Results suggest that (1) in tests of free recall, if using a continuous value scale, the range of values matters in terms of selective memory, (2) analysing the selectivity index can yield different results than modelling item-level recall using point values (and the latter may be a preferable approach), (3) measures of selectivity using different value structures may lack construct validity when testing memory via recognition tests, and (4) the effect of value on memory is much larger on recall than recognition tests. Thus, I suggest that researchers carefully consider and justify the value structure used when examining selective memory for valuable information in list learning tasks.

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