Get access

Power in Numbers: The Effect of Target Set Size on Prospective Person Memory in an Analog Missing Child Scenario


James Michael Lampinen, Department of Psychology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA.



Efforts to find missing or wanted individuals have been characterized as an example of event-based prospective memory called prospective person memory. We examined prospective person memory in the context of missing children. Participants studied 4 or 12 mock missing child posters. In Experiment 1, we equated total time per poster and found no difference between conditions in prospective person memory accuracy. In Experiment 2, we equated total time for all posters and found evidence of a decrease in prospective person memory accuracy in the 12-poster condition. In Experiment 3, we allowed free study and also found a decrease in prospective person memory accuracy. Across all three experiments, we also found evidence of a more liberal response bias in the 12-poster condition. Results are discussed in terms of both practical and theoretical implications. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.