Fan Effects: When do They Help and When do They Hurt Memory Retrieval and Why?
The result that there can be interference among competing associations to a concept has been known for many years, but its applicability in various contexts is not well understood. A number of theorists were puzzled by what was called the "Paradox of the Expert" - the implication that experts should be slower to answer questions about their specialty if knowing more slows one down - Certainly that is not true; however, the phenomenon of the slowing of verification to questions whose concepts are associated with more facts, even highly organized sets of facts, can be demonstrated.

The research described here attempted to resolve this paradox, explaining when interference would occur, when it would not and why experts appear not to suffer from such interference. This work also has connections to other work on strategy selection.

We have begun exploring how the fan effect can explain the word frequency mirror effect (Reder et al., 2000, 2002; Cary & Reder, 2003) and contextual effects in memory such as matching font of the word from study to test (Reder, Donavos, & Erickson, 2002). The font fan effect also produces a mirror effect (Diana, Peterson, & Reder, 2004). We have also begun extending this effect of contextual fan to face recognition (Diana & Reder, 2002).



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Park, H., Arndt, J.D., & Reder, L.M. (2006). A contextual interference account of distinctiveness effects in recognition. Memory & Cognition, 34(4), 743-751. [download PDF]

Diana, R., Peterson, M.J., & Reder, L.M. (2004). The role of spurious feature familiarity in recognition memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11(1), 150-156. [download PDF]

Cary, M. & Reder, L.M. (2003). A dual-process account of the list-length and strength-based mirror effects in recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 49(2), 231-248. [download PDF]

Reder, L.M., Donavos, D.K., & Erickson, M.A. (2002). Perceptual Match Effects in Direct Tests of Memory: The Role of Contextual Fan. Memory & Cognition, 30(2), 312-323. [download PDF]

Diana, R. & Reder, L.M. (2002). The Effects of Irrelevant Perceptual Information on Memory for Faces Psychonomic Society, 43rd Annual Meeting, 294-320.

Reder, L.M., Angstadt, P., Cary, M., Erickson, M.A., & Ayers, M.A. (2002). A reexamination of stimulus-frequency effects in recognition: Two mirrors for low- and high-frequency pseudowords. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 28, 138-152. [download PDF]

Reder, L.M., Nhouyvansivong, A., Schunn, C.D., Ayers, M.S., Angstadt, P., & Hiraki, K. (2000). A Mechanistic Account of the Mirror Effect for Word Frequency: A Computational Model of Remember/Know Judgements in a Continuous Recognition Paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 26(2), 294-320. [download PDF]

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Anderson, J.R., & Reder, L.M. (1999). The Fan Effect: New Results and New Theories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 128(2), 186-197. [download PDF]

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