Task Dependency and the Role of Category Typicality and Metamemory in the Development of an Organizational Strategy


  • This research was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany (Ha 1452/2–2). I thank Ulrike Andrecht and Sabine Kubisch for their assistance in collecting the data and David Bjorklund, Dorothee Büttner, Wolfgang Schneider, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

should be addressed to Marcus Hasselhorn, Institut für Psychologie, Gosslerstrasse 14, D-3400 Göttingen, Germany.


Second and fourth graders received 1 of 3 lists of items differing in category representativeness in either a free recall or a sort-recall task. The selection of list materials permitted a separation of the effects of age differences in category knowledge from those of that knowledge per se on children's recall behavior. Proximal and distal measures of metamemory also were derived. Levels of recall and clustering were superior in the sort-recall task and for items of high category typicality. Recall also increased with age, while grade effects for clustering were restricted to the sort-recall/high typicality condition. The deliberate use of an organizational strategy increased with items' category typicality and with age, and was more frequent in the sort-recall than in the free recall task. The results were interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that most 10-year-olds are capable of strategically activating category knowledge in appropriate task environments when items of high category typicality are provided.