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Alba, J., & Hasher, L. (1983). Is memory schematic? Psychological Bulletin, 93, 203- 231.


This article proposes a prototypical schema theory of memory. Such a theory assumes the operation of four central encoding processes: selection -- a process that chooses only some of all incoming stimuli for representation; abstraction -- a process that stores the meaning of a message without reference to the original syntactic and lexical content; interpretation -- a process by which relevant prior knowledge is generated to aid comprehension; and integration -- a process by which a single, holistic memory representation is formed from the products of the three previous operations. The article evaluated the supportive and critical evidence for these processes in light of the need for any theory of memory to account for three fundamental observations: accuracy, incompleteness, and distortion. The central retrieval process of schema theory, reconstruction, is also discussed in this context. Evidence seems to indicate that the memory representation is far richer and detailed that schema theory would suggest.

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