Value-Directed Retrieval: The Effects of Divided Attention at Encoding and Retrieval on Memory Selectivity and Retrieval Dynamics
Dillon H. Murphy, Shawn T. Schwartz, and Alan D. Castel
Value-directed remembering refers to the tendency to best remember important information at the expense of less valuable information, and this ability may draw on strategic attentional processes. In six experiments, we investigated the role of attention in value-directed remembering by examining memory for important information under conditions of divided attention during encoding and retrieval. We presented participants with lists of words of varying objective or subjective value and compared participants completing the study phase under full or divided attention, in addition to participants completing the testing phase under full or divided attention. Results revealed that certain forms of selectivity were impaired when attention was divided during encoding but not when attention was divided during retrieval. Participants initiated recall (i.e., probability of first recall; PFR) with high-value words as well as with words they subjectively deemed important; these value-mediated PFR retrieval dynamics resisted influence from reduced attentional resources during encoding and retrieval. Thus, while value-directed remembering involves both strategic encoding and retrieval operations, attentional resources during encoding appear crucial for subsequent recollection of valuable and important information; however, attentional resources during retrieval may be less influential in strategic selective memory.