A reexamination of stimulus-frequency effects in recognition: two mirrors for low- and high-frequency pseudowords.

The word-frequency mirror effect (more hits and fewer false alarms for low-frequency than for high-frequency words) has intrigued memory researchers, and multiple accounts have been offered to explain the result. In this study, participants were differentially familiarized to various pseudowords in a familiarization phase that spanned multiple weeks. Recognition tests given during the first week of familiarization replicated a result of W. T. Maddox and W. K. Estes (1997) that failed to show the classic word-frequency mirror effect for pseudowords; however, recognition tests given toward the end of training showed the classic mirror pattern. In addition, a stimulus-frequency mirror effect for "remember" vs. "know" judgments was obtained. These data are consistent with an account of the mirror effect that posits the involvement of dual processes for episodic recognition.