Does Category Labeling Lead to Forgetting?


In this paper, we evaluate the "representational shift" hypothesis (Lupyan, 2008) which argues that the act of explicitly labeling an object as a member of a familiar semantic category alters the trace of the encoded memory in the direction of the category prototype. The typical procedure for such experiments has been to compare category labeling to a non-categorization encoding task such as a preference judgement. In a series of experiments, we examine alternative comparison tasks that attempt to control the depth of encoding and the degree to which category information is explicitly recruited at the time of study. The results appear most consistent with a depth of processing (Craik & Lockhart, 1972) (Exp. 1) or distinctiveness (Exp. 2) explanation for the pattern of memory effects found in previous studies.

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