Psychology Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier 10.1080/17470218.2011.560272


Theories of false memories, particularly in the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm, focus on word association strength and gist. Backward associative strength (BAS) is a strong predictor of false recall in this paradigm. However, other than being defined as a measure of association between studied list words and falsely recalled nonpresented critical words, there is little understanding of this variable. In Experiment 1, we used a knowledge-type taxonomy to classify the semantic relations in DRM stimuli. These knowledge types predicted false-recall probability, as well as BAS itself, with the most important being situation features, synonyms, and taxonomic relations. In three subsequent experiments, we demonstrated that lists composed solely of situation features can elicit a gist and produce false memories, particularly when monitoring processes are made more difficult. Our results identify the semantic factors that underlie BAS and suggest how considering semantic relations leads to a better understanding of gist formation.


This is the author accepted version of an article published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Find in your library

Included in

Psychology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.