Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2715690
 


 



Recognizing the Presidents: Was Alexander Hamilton President?


Henry L. Roediger III


Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Psychology

K. Andrew DeSoto


Association for Psychological Science

February 8, 2016

Psychological Science, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
Studies over the past 40 years show that Americans can recall about half the U.S. presidents. Do people know the presidents but are simply unable to access them for recall? We asked this question using the powerful cues of a recognition test. We tested 326 MTurk subjects on their ability to recognize U.S. presidents when presented with their full names among various types of lures. The hit rate for presidential recognition was .88, well above recall but far from perfect. Franklin Pierce and Chester Arthur were recognized less than 60% of the time. Interestingly, 4 nonpresidents were falsely recognized at relatively high rates, and Alexander Hamilton was more frequently identified as president than several actual presidents. Even on a recognition test, knowledge of American presidents is imperfect and prone to error. The false alarm data support the theory that false fame can arise from contextual familiarity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: recognition, presidents, false fame, familiarity, collective memory


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Date posted: February 10, 2016  

Suggested Citation

Roediger, Henry L. and DeSoto, K. Andrew, Recognizing the Presidents: Was Alexander Hamilton President? (February 8, 2016). Psychological Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2715690

Contact Information

Henry L. Roediger III (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Psychology ( email )
St. Louis, MI 63130
United States
Kurt Andrew DeSoto
Association for Psychological Science ( email )
1133 15th St NW
Ste 1000
Washington, DC 20005
United States
2022939300 x118 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.psychologicalscience.org
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