Are Independent Probes Truly Independent?
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The independent cue technique has been developed to test traditional interference theories against inhibition theories of forgetting. In the present study, the authors tested the critical criterion for the independence of independent cues: Studied cues not presented during test (and unrelated to test cues) should not contribute to the retrieval process. Participants first studied a subset of cues (e.g., rope) that were subsequently studied together with a target in a 2nd study phase (e.g., rope-sailing, sunflower-yellow). In the test phase, an extralist category cue (e.g., sports, color) was presented, and participants were instructed to recall an item from the study list that was a member of the category (e.g., sailing, yellow). The experiments showed that previous study of the paired-associate word (e.g., rope) enhanced category cued recall even though this word was not presented at test. This experimental demonstration of covert cuing has important implications for the effectiveness of the independent cue technique.