Selecting effectively contributes to the mnemonic benefits of self-generated cues

Jonathan G. Tullis, Scott H. Fraundorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-generated memory cues support recall of target information more robustly than memory cues generated by others. Across two experiments, we tested whether the benefit of self-generated cues in part reflects a meta-mnemonic effect rather than a pure generation effect. In other words, can learners select better memory cues for themselves than others can? Participants generated as many possible memory cues for each to-be-remembered target as they could and then selected the cue they thought would be most effective. Self-selected memory cues elicited better cued recall than cues the generator did not select and cues selected by observers. Critically, this effect cannot be attributed to the process of generating a cue itself because all of the cues were self-generated. Further analysis indicated that differences in cue selection arise because generators and observers valued different cue characteristics; specifically, observers valued the commonality of the cue more than the generators, while generators valued the distinctiveness of a cue more than observers. Together, results suggest that self-generated cues are effective at supporting memory, in part, because learners select cues that are tailored to their specific memory needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-781
Number of pages17
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Cue generation
  • Generation effect
  • Metacognition
  • Metacognitive control
  • Perspective taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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