Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology



First Advisor

Rebekah Smith

Second Advisor

Robert Reed Hunt Jr.

Third Advisor

Matthew Reysen

Relational Format



A large body of literature has found that when participants are instructed to maximize their score, they reliably demonstrate better memory for information assigned high relative to low-values. This value-directed remembering effect has been replicated numerous times throughout nearly three decades of research. The most current theoretical explanation posits that high-value items disproportionately benefit from semantic processing relative to low-value items; however, this does not explain how this additional processing supports better memory for high-value items. Prior research suggests that semantic processing may benefit memory through item-specific processing or the processing of unique aspects of meaning. To this extent, the current theory argues for the role of item-specific processing; however, this ignores other research which suggests a role of relational processing in supporting memory within value-directed remembering. The current study provided evidence for a new theoretical explanation of value-directed remembering in which high-value items are thought to benefit from distinctive processing to a greater extent than low-value items. Given that distinctive processing incorporates the joint action of item-specific and relational processing, this study builds upon the current literature and, in doing so, provides a mechanistic explanation for value-directed remembering.


Experimental Psychology



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