Dissociations between conscious and unconscious influences of memory for object location

Date

2017-08-28

Authors

Caldwell, Judy Inez

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Abstract

This study used the process dissociation procedure to investigate the effects of three variables on conscious and unconscious influences of memory for object location. The purpose was not only to provide insight into conscious and unconscious influences of memory for object location, but also to obtain support for the assumption that the two influences operate independently. Such support can be obtained by demonstrating that a manipulation affects one component of memory but leaves the other invariant. The three variables used in the present study included dividing attention at study and test, the age of the participants, and habit strength. In the first experiment, when attention was divided at study, the conscious estimate was significantly reduced under conditions of divided attention. This result was also found when attention was divided at test, although the effect only approached significance. Moreover. when attention was divided at study, there was a tendency for the unconscious estimate to be greater under full attention than under divided attention. When attention was manipulated at test, however, the unconscious estimate did not vary across the two attention conditions. The results of Experiment 1, therefore, did not provide strong evidence for the assumption of independence. Such evidence, however, was obtained in Experiments 2 and 3 where a double dissociation between conscious and unconscious influences of memory for object location was observed. Specifically, in Experiment 2 it was found that age affected the conscious component but left the unconscious component invariant, whereas in Experiment 3 it was found that manipulating habit strength affected the unconscious influence of memory for spatial location but not the conscious influence. The results of these experiments are discussed in terms of their importance for research on memory and aging and systems theories of memory, as well as for the assumption that conscious and unconscious influences of memory operate independently.

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Keywords

Memory, Spatial behavior

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