Within the literature of psychological and decision sciences, there is a critical difference in the way recognition is defined and studied experimentally. To address this difference, the current experiment examines and attempts to disentangle the influence of two recognition judgment sources (from within an experiment and from an individual’s prior life experiences) upon two different recognition judgments. By presenting participants with a set of related stimuli that vary naturally in environmental occurrence and by manipulating exposure within an experimental context, this experiment allows for a broader and more ecologically valid assessment of recognition memory. Contrasting with the typical word-frequency effect, the results reveal an overall bias to judge high-frequency items as studied on an episodic recognition test. Additionally, the results underscore the role of context by showing that a single study exposure increases the probability that individuals will judge stimuli as presented outside the laboratory.