Control Over Grain Size in Memory Reporting-With and Without Satisficing Knowledge

Rakefet Ackerman, Morris Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When answering questions from memory, respondents strategically control the precision or coarseness of their answers. This grain control process is guided by 2 countervailing aims: to be informative and to be correct. Previously, M. Goldsmith, A. Koriat, and A. Weinberg Eliezer (2002) proposed a satisficing model in which respondents provide the most precise answer that passes a minimum-confidence report criterion. Pointing to social-pragmatic considerations, the present research shows the need to incorporate a minimum-informativeness criterion as well. Unlike its predecessor, the revised, "dual-criterion" model implies a distinction between 2 theoretical knowledge states: Under moderate-to-high levels of satisficing knowledge, a grain size can be found that jointly satisfies both criteria-confidence and informativeness. In contrast, under lower levels of unsatisficing knowledge, the 2 criteria conflict-one cannot be satisfied without violating the other. In support of the model, respondents often violated the confidence criterion in deference to the informativeness criterion, particularly when answering under low knowledge, despite having full control over grain size. Results also suggest a key role for the "don't know" response, which when available, can be used preferentially to circumvent the criterion conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1224-1245
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • don't know
  • gist memory
  • memory accuracy and informativeness
  • metamemory
  • monitoring and control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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