Evaluating the unequal-variance and dual-process explanations of zROC slopes with response time data and the diffusion model.

Abstract

We tested two explanations for why the slope of the z-transformed receiver operating characteristic (zROC) is less than 1 in recognition memory: the unequal-variance account (target evidence is more variable than lure evidence) and the dual-process account (responding reflects both a continuous familiarity process and a threshold recollection process). These accounts are typically implemented in signal detection models that do not make predictions for response time (RT) data. We tested them using RT data and the diffusion model. Participants completed multiple study/test blocks of an "old"/"new" recognition task with the proportion of targets and the test varying from block to block (.21, .32, .50, .68, or .79 targets). The same participants completed sessions with both speed-emphasis and accuracy-emphasis instructions. zROC slopes were below one for both speed and accuracy sessions, and they were slightly lower for speed. The extremely fast pace of the speed sessions (mean RT=526) should have severely limited the role of the slower recollection process relative to the fast familiarity process. Thus, the slope results are not consistent with the idea that recollection is responsible for slopes below 1. The diffusion model was able to match the empirical zROC slopes and RT distributions when between-trial variability in memory evidence was greater for targets than for lures, but missed the zROC slopes when target and lure variability were constrained to be equal. Therefore, unequal variability in continuous evidence is supported by RT modeling in addition to signal detection modeling. Finally, we found that a two-choice version of the RTCON model could not accommodate the RT distributions as successfully as the diffusion model.

DOI: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2011.10.002

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@article{Starns2012EvaluatingTU, title={Evaluating the unequal-variance and dual-process explanations of zROC slopes with response time data and the diffusion model.}, author={Jeffrey Starns and Roger Ratcliff and Gail McKoon}, journal={Cognitive psychology}, year={2012}, volume={64 1-2}, pages={1-34} }