Retrieving a Distant Analog From Memory in Daily Life is Very Unlikely, Even in Optimal Conditions of Encoding

AbstractAgainst the typical results from laboratory studies, it has been suggested that retrieving distant analogs might be easy in real-life, where we tend to encode familiar situations with expert-like schemas. In each of two experiments, we formed two groups of participants who, as determined by a questionnaire presented during a first session, had reported that they have experienced an event corresponding to a schema-governed category (Experiment 1) or to a system of schema-governed categories (Experiment 2). While the episodes reported by one of the groups belonged to the same domain as the target analog to be presented during the second session, those of the other group belonged to a different thematic domain. During a temporally and contextually separated session, the experimenters presented both groups with a target analog belonging to the schema-governed category for which participants had reported a base analog. Participants had to retrieve an autobiographical episode that they considered analogous to the situation presented by the experimenter. In line with traditional studies, we found that retrieving distant instances of relational categories is much more difficult than retrieving close instances.

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