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Alba, J., Chromiak, W., Hasher, L., & Attig, M. S. (1980). Automatic encoding of category size information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 6, 370-378.


The memory codes of environmental events are known to contain information about the frequency of occurrence of those events. Two studies demonstrated that adults could estimate the frequency of implicitly referenced events (category names) when they were presented with individual events (category instances). In Experiment 1 it was found that under incidental instructions, adults are sensitive to the frequency with which category exemplars occur. It was also suggested that such information is encoded at the time of the exemplars are presented. The results of Experiment 2, by varying instructions and mode of exemplar presentation, suggested that category-frequency information, like individual event frequency, may be encoded automatically.

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