A study of memory pointers

Asher Koriat, Israel Lieblich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary aim of the present study was the delineation of characteristics of stimulus information likely to induce tip of the tounge (TOT) states. Sixty-two word definitions (pointers) were presented to 56 Ss and the pattern of responses of each individual to each pointer was classified as reflecting one of nine memory states. Pointers were found to vary rather reliably (0.62) in the extent to which they tended to precipitate TOT states. The mapping of the pointers in terms of their tendency to precipitate the various memory states revealed that pointers differ in terms of two distinguishable dimensions: effectiveness in suggesting or eliciting the correct target, and degree of initial feeling of knowing evoked. The results were seen to suggest (1) that retrieval involves a preliminary stage of cursory pointer analysis which determines the likelihood that the solicited information is available and will be successfully retrieved; and (2) that the decision reached in this stage may depend on pointer characteristics different from those likely to determine success of the subsequent retrieval attempt. Pointer characteristics were identified which appear to affect of the two dimensions described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-164
Number of pages14
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 1977
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* This research was supported by a grant from the Faculty of Social Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Requests for reprints should be sent to Asher Koriat, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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