Objects’ perceived meaningfulness predicts both subjective memorability judgments and actual memory performance

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Memorability studies have revealed a limitation in our ability to accurately judge which images are memorable. Conversely, metacognitive research suggests that individuals can utilize cues to reliably assess their memory performance. Here, we investigated two important stimulus cues potentially underlying subjective memorability, and their relation to actual memory performance. Participants encoded 200 real-world object images while providing Judgements of Learning (JOLs), in which they estimated the likelihood of remembering each image. Subsequently, they completed an old/new memory recognition test on these stimuli. All stimuli were priorly rated by an independent group of participants for their perceived meaningfulness and visual complexity. Results indicated that participants' metacognitive judgements exhibited a relatively good resolution, allowing them to distinguish well-remembered from less-remembered images. Furthermore, analyses conducted at the image level demonstrated that JOLs significantly predicted memory performance, with the meaningfulness of the images emerging as a crucial factor associated with JOLs of both participants and their actual memory performance. The visual complexity factor was correlated only with the actual memory performance. Collectively, these findings suggest that memory performance is closely associated with the meaning of objects. Critically, individuals possess a subjective sense of images' memorability, which is at least partially mediated by perceived meaningfulness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-484
Number of pages13
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Memorability
  • metacognition
  • visual memory


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