Knowledge is power: Prior knowledge aids memory for both congruent and incongruent events, but in different ways.
Events that conform to our expectations, that is, are congruent with our world knowledge or schemas, are better remembered than unrelated events. Yet events that conflict with schemas can also be remembered better. We examined this apparent paradox in 4 experiments, in which schemas were established by training ordinal relationships between randomly paired objects, whereas event memory was tested for the number of objects on each trial. Better memory was found for both congruent and incongruent trials, relative to unrelated trials, producing memory performance that was a "U-shaped" function of congruency. The congruency advantage but not incongruency advantage was mediated by postencoding processes, whereas the incongruency advantage, but not congruency advantage, emerged even if the information probed by the memory test was irrelevant to the schema. Schemas therefore augment event memory in multiple ways, depending on the match between novel and existing information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Online Publication Date
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/8)