The accessibility hypothesis suggests that memory will be accurate when the ease of processing (accessibility) is correlated with memory behaviour; however, if the ease of processing is not correlated with memory in a given task, then the judgments will not be accurate. Proposed by Koriat, the theory suggests that participants base their judgments on retrieved information rather than basing them on the sheer familiarity of the cues. Along with the lexical unit, people may use partial information that could be correct or incorrect. According to Koriat, the participants themselves do not know whether the information they are retrieving is correct or incorrect most of the time. The quality of information retrieved depends on individual elements of that information. The individual elements of information differ in strength and speed of access to the information. Research by Vigliocco, Antonini, and Garrett (1997) and Miozzo and Caramazza (1997) showed that individuals in a tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) state were able to retrieve partial knowledge (gender) about the unrecalled words, providing strong evidence for the accessibility heuristic.
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“Oversimplified, Merciers Hypothesis would run like this: Wit is always absurd and true, humor absurd and untrue.”
—Vivian Mercier (b. 1919)