Using Self-Generated Cues to Facilitate Recall: A Review

Wheeler, Rebecca L. and Gabbert, Fiona. 2017. Using Self-Generated Cues to Facilitate Recall: A Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1830. ISSN 1664-1078 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We draw upon the Associative Network model of memory, as well as the principles of encoding-retrieval specificity, and cue distinctiveness, to argue that self-generated cue mnemonics offer an intuitive means of facilitating reliable recall of personally experienced events. The use of a self-generated cue mnemonic allows for the spreading activation nature of memory, whilst also presenting an opportunity to capitalize upon cue distinctiveness. Here, we present the theoretical rationale behind the use of this technique, and highlight the distinction between a self-generated cue and a self-referent cue in autobiographical memory research. We contrast this mnemonic with a similar retrieval technique, Mental Reinstatement of Context, which is recognized as the most effective mnemonic component of the Cognitive Interview. Mental Reinstatement of Context is based upon the principle of encoding-retrieval specificity, whereby the overlap between encoded information and retrieval cue predicts the likelihood of accurate recall. However, it does not incorporate the potential additional benefit of self-generated retrieval cues.

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This work was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (ES/J500124/1) as part of RW’s Ph.D. The funding was awarded to FG in support of this.


retrieval cue, encoding specificity, spreading activation, cue distinctiveness, cue generation, self-generated cue, Mental Reinstatement of Context, encoding-retrieval match

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2 October 2017Accepted
27 October 2017Published Online

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Date Deposited:

03 Oct 2017 12:05

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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