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The Effect of Integration on Recall of Counterintuitive Stories

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Research on the cognitive foundations of cultural transmission has recently demonstrated that concepts which minimally violate one domain-specific ontological category expectation, or "minimally counterintuitive" concepts (MCI), are better recalled, all else being equal, than "intuitive" concepts (INT), which do not violate domain-specific ontological expectations. In addition, memory for MCI concepts is better than memory for "maximally counterintuitive concepts" (MXCI), or concepts which violate more than one domain-specifi c ontological expectation. Thus, MCI items appear to enjoy a memory advantage, although these effects are heavily affected by context. The present experiment was designed to investigate the influence of integration on the MCI effect. Participants memorized a series of stories that were either intuitive (INT), minimally counterintuitive (MCI), or maximally counterintuitive (MXCI). In addition, the stories were either causally integrated or not. Cued recall results suggested that integration of a story is a significant factor influencing memory performance. We argue that these results are complimentary to the MCI hypothesis.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Providence College, 1 Cunningham Square, Providence, RI 02918, USA; 2: Webster University, St. Louis, MO, USA

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