Encoding Specificity

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  • A principle, proposed by Thompsen and Tulving in 1973, that specifies that there is a relationship between the contextual setting at the time one encodes a memory and the contextual cues available at the time one later recalls that memory. Specifically, recall memory is better if the setting or cues available at encoding are available when recall is required. For example, students might do better on an exam taken in the same room where they learned the material. Tulving suggested that the probability of successful retrieval of a memory increases as a function of the overlap between the information present at retrieval and the information stored in memory. For more information, see Tulving and Thomson (1973).

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