Cueing others’ memories

Jonathan G. Tullis, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many situations require us to generate external cues to support later retrieval from memory. For instance, we create file names in order to cue our memory to a file’s contents, and instructors create lecture slides to remember what points to make during classes. We even generate cues for others when we remind friends of shared experiences or send colleagues a computer file that is named in such a way so as to remind them of its contents. Here we explore how and how well learners tailor retrieval cues for different intended recipients. Across three experiments, subjects generated verbal cues for a list of target words for themselves or for others. Learners generated cues for others by increasing the normative cue-to-target associative strength but also by increasing the number of other words their cues point to, relative to cues that they generated for themselves. This strategy was effective: such cues supported higher levels of recall for others than cues generated for oneself. Generating cues for others also required more time than generating cues for oneself. Learners responded to the differential demands of cue generation for others by effortfully excluding personal, episodic knowledge and including knowledge that they estimate to be broadly shared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-646
Number of pages13
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 15 2015


  • Cue generation
  • Metacognition
  • Metamemory
  • Perspective taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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