Remembering in and out of context

Steven M. Smith
1979 Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Learning & Memory  
Three experiments examined the incidental associations between list-learning material and the environmental context of that list's presentation. The environmental reinstatement effect is that subjects remember more when tested in their original learning environment relative to those tested in a new environmental context. Experiment 1 demonstrated that this effect is due to a memory process, rather than a general performance decrement caused by the unfamiliarity of the new test room. The
more » ... ement effect was eliminated in Experiment 2 when subjects tested in a new room were instructed to recall the original learning environment just prior to free recall of list words. This release from contextual dependence was diminished in Experiment 3 when the original learning room was made more difficult to remember. The results show that context effects can be brought under cognitive control; subjects can supply their own contextual retrieval cues when the context can be easily recalled.
doi:10.1037/0278-7393.5.5.460 fatcat:otupw4eby5ec3fmgyedcix6yde