Peter Graf

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Professor B.A. Levy


The generation effect refers to the superior retention of verbal materials that were generated by the subjects rather than supplied by the experimenter and just read by the subjects. The major objective of this thesis is to present a new interpretive framework for the generation effect obtained with sentences. This framework emphasizes the distinction between two organizational among the words of a sentence -- its interword organization. The second process characterizes the organization among the perceptual and conceptual elements within a word -- its intraword organization. The experiments presented highlight the importance of distinguishing between these two types of organization. Results from tests that are primarily sensitive to interword organization showed a generation effect with meaningful but not with anomalous sentences. Results from tests that are primarily sensitive to intraword organization showed a generation effect with both types of sentences. Results from a test that is simultaneously highly sensitive to both of these organizational dimensions revealed both an increase in interword organization along a meaning dimension and an increase in intraword organization.

The generalizability of the current interpretive framework was tested on generation effects obtained with word pairs; it was also examined on the superior retention of sentences read in geometrically transformed as compared to normal typography. The present results cannot readily be assimilated by any of the interpretive views previously offered for the generation effect. The ability of the proposed framework to accommodate these related findings revealed it as an effective investigative tool that promises to be useful in the examination of memory phenomena related to the generation effect.

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