The Mnemonic of Intuitive Ontology Violation is Not the Distinctiveness Effect: Evidence From a Broad Age Spectrum of Persons in the uk and China During a Free-Recall Task

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
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The typical formulation of Pascal Boyer’s counterintuitiveness theory asserts that concepts violating intuitive ontological-category structures are more memorable. However, Boyer’s (2001) original claim centered on the transmission advantages of counter-ontological representations that were cultural. Nevertheless, subsequent studies focused on the recall of novel counterintuitive representations, and an “alternative account” of the memorability of counterintuitive concepts has emerged resembling the distinctiveness effect (Upal, 2010). Yet, experimental evidence shows that familiar concepts have memorability advantages over novel ones (Anaki & Bentin, 2009; Ingram, Mickes, & Wixted, 2011). This investigation of these pan-cultural transmission biases used a large age-representative sample (13–86 years; N = 365) in the uk and China. Results were analyzed by hlm, with familiarity, counterintuitiveness, and delay as 2-level fixed factors, and age as a covariate. No support was revealed for the typical formulation of the hypothesis — however, a significant age effect and interaction of familiarity x counterintuitiveness were found.

The Mnemonic of Intuitive Ontology Violation is Not the Distinctiveness Effect: Evidence From a Broad Age Spectrum of Persons in the uk and China During a Free-Recall Task

in Journal of Cognition and Culture



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    An example of a familiar intuitive-congruent (fINT) stimulus used for the writtenmaterials presentation. This accompanying image did not directly depict the meaning of the modified concept with reference to the subject-predicate statement component of the stimulus; in all cases the image displayed lacked any modifiers, even though the actual stimulus included a modifier (e.g. the image for “a frog that is jumping” would show not a jumping frog, but a stationary frog that persons would typically entertain upon encountering FROG).
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    Bars representing mean percentage of intuitive-congruent stimuli (int) and counterintuitive stimuli (mci) recalled immediately following a distractor task and again after a one-week period of delay [error bars +/− 2SE].
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    Bars represent mean percentage of recall rates of familiar stimuli (fMCI and fINT) and unfamiliar stimuli (uMCI and uINT) immediately following a distractor task and again after a one-week period of delay [error bars +/− 2SE].
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    Bars representing mean percentage of recall rate of familiar counterintuitive stimuli (fMCI) and unfamiliar counterintuitive stimuli (uMCI) immediately following a distractor task and again after a one-week period of delay [error bars +/− 2SE].


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