Judgments of learning reflect the encoding of contexts, not items: evidence from a test of recognition exclusion

Belgin Ünal, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two sources of evidence seem to be shared by judgments of past recognition and judgments of future performance: item memory or familiarity (i.e., memory for the item independent of the context in which it was experienced) and context memory or recollection (i.e., memory for the context specific to a particular prior encounter). However, there are few studies investigating the link between these two putative memory processes and judgments of learning (JOLs). We tested memory and metamemory using a continuous exclusion procedure–a modified recognition memory task where study events for two classes of items are interleaved with test trials in which the subject must endorse items from one class and reject items from the other. This procedure allowed us to estimate the influences of memory for context and memory for item on JOLs and licenses conclusions about the relative role of item and context information in supporting JOLs. An analysis of forgetting revealed that JOLs reflect both the initial degree of learning and the rate of forgetting, but only of memory for context and not of memory for items. These findings suggest that JOLs are predictive of memory for context-bound episodes, rather than for the semantic content of those episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-68
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • Metamemory
  • exclusion paradigm
  • judgments of learning
  • process dissociation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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