Between-list manipulations of memory strength through repetition commonly generate a mirror effect, with more hits, and fewer false alarms for strengthened items. However, this pattern is rarely seen with within-list manipulations of strength. Three experiments investigated the conditions under which a within-list mirror effect of strength (items presented once or thrice) is observed. In Experiments 1 and 2, we indirectly manipulated the overall subjective memorability of the studied lists by varying the proportion of non-words. A within-list mirror effect was observed only in Experiment 2, where a higher proportion of non-words was presented in the study list. In Experiment 3, the presentation duration for each item (0.5 s versus 3 s) was manipulated between groups with the purpose of affecting subjective memorability: A within-list mirror effect was observed only for the short-presentation durations. Thus, across three experiments, we found the within-list mirror effect only under conditions of poor overall subjective memorability. We propose that when the overall subjective memorability is low, people switch their response strategy on an item-by-item basis, and that this generates the observed mirror effect. <br/
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