Melting Lizards and Solid Gold Stop Signs: Preferential Recall of Both Counterintuitive and Bizarre Concepts

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
  • | 2 Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
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Research has shown that minimally counterintuitive concepts (MCI) are more memorable than concepts that are simply bizarre. However, this disparity may exist only in studies using cross-cultural samples. To test the impact of bizarreness on culturally homogeneous populations, we read a fictional narrative to 33 college-age students at a Midwestern university. This narrative featured 18 sets of target items – six which were intuitive, six which were counterintuitive, and six which were bizarre. After hearing the story, experimenters administered a written recall task. As hypothesized, students did not differ in their recall of counterintuitive or bizarre target items. Therefore, we propose a minimally distinctive model of memorability, encompassing both counterintuitiveness and bizarreness. This model may help us better understand the memorability of expectation violations, especially those within religious stories.

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