Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



The current project investigated the generality of discrepancy effect in retrospective memory (RM) reported by Whittlesea and colleagues (e.g., Whittlesea & Williams, 2001a) and the generality of discrepancy effect in prospective memory (PM) reported by McDaniel and colleagues (e.g., McDaniel, Guynn, Einstein, & Breneiser, 2004). Experiments 1a and 2 tested the claim that discrepancy, elicited by mismatching the expected and the actual processing fluency, can give rise to familiarity under an RM context and increase familiarity judgments of discrepant items, independent of previous encounters with those items. Experiment 1b tested the claim that, within a PM context, such discrepancy can signal that discrepant items are significant and this significance can initiate the search for the source of the significance, thereby enhancing PM performance for discrepant PM cues. The current project attempted to elicit discrepancy by implementing a processing fluency paradigm with masked priming and a modified perceptual mask for Experiments 1a and 1b or high and low frequency words for Experiment 2. The discrepancy was manipulated by mismatching/matching the processing fluency of some items to the processing fluency of other items (e.g., fluent items embedded within disfluent items = discrepant items). In Experiment 1a, hit rates were higher for more fluently processed items (i.e., items with no perceptual mask) than less fluently processed items (items with a difficult perceptual mask), independent of discrepancy. In Experiment 2, hit rates were higher for low frequency words than high frequency words, independent of discrepancy. Furthermore, both in Experiments 1a and 2, false alarm rates did not differ as a function of discrepancy, fluency, or word frequency. In Experiment 1b, PM performance did not differ between discrepant and nondiscrepant PM cues. These results suggest that the discrepancy effects in RM and PM might not be as general as previously claimed.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Mark McDaniel

Committee Members

David Balota, Janet Duchek, Henry Roediger, James Wertsch


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