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Open Access

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Degree Name

Thesis (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded



Reading, Word recognition, Recollection (Psychology)


The present study investigated the influence of encoding context on the types of recognition errors that adults and nine-year-olds commit . Encoding context was varied through the use of different orienting questions. In general, it was found that both nine-year-olds and adults were influenced by encoding context. Nine-year-olds, however, committed more contextually related false recognition errors only when they both answered orienting questions and generated related words, while adults were influenced by context only after answering orienting questions. When adults were asked to generate words in addition to answering questions, the encoding context effect disappeared. Two hypotheses were proposed to explain these results. The first suggested that children failed to process stimuli as elaborately as adults, and were thus less likely to incorrectly recognize more contextually related foils, unless they were explicitly required to generate related words (often foils) . The second hypothesis suggested that the retrieval strategies of adults and children differed. Children probably picked words on the test based on familiarity, and unless they generated foils, the context effect would not be expected to appear. Adults, however, may have employed more sophisticated test-taking strategies. After iv simply answering orienting questions, they may have selected some foils based on the context of remembered orienting questions. However, after generating related words, some subjects may have avoided choosing those words (usually foils) on the recognition memory test, resulting in the disappearance of the context effect