Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Psychological Science 9:2 (March 1998), pp. 124–126. Copyright © 1998 American Psychological Society; published by Wiley-Blackwell. Used by permission.


Abstract—Participants who had to recall 12 childhood events (a difficult task) were more likely to infer that they could not remember large parts of their childhood than participants who had to recall 4 events (an easy task), although the former recalled three times as many events. This pattern of results suggests that memory judgments are based on the experienced ease or difficulty of recall. Accordingly, the negative impact of recalling 12 events was attenuated when participants were led to attribute the experienced difficulty to the task rather than to the poor quality of their memory. The findings emphasize the role of subjective experiences and attribution in metamemory judgments.