Who Said What to Whom?: Contextual Memory Processes in Bilinguals

Naoko Tsuboi, University of Texas at El Paso


Source memory is memory for sources of information (who gave the information), whereas destination memory is memory for destinations of information (to whom the information was given). Prior literature found that source memory exceeded destination memory, and destination memory was impaired remarkably under high cognitive demand tasks. These findings supported the attention hypothesis, the idea that greater attentional resource availability leads to better source and destination memory. The current study extended prior source and destination research to bilingualism because bilinguals are thought to have a greater attention control ability than monolinguals. In the only published study to compare bilingual and monolingual source memory, bilinguals outperformed monolinguals, and there were no language proficiency effects within bilinguals. The current study examined for the first time whether the same pattern would be observed in destination memory and also investigated the allocation of attentional resources under different encoding situations. In Experiment 1, bilingual and monolingual participants were asked to have conversations with a randomly assigned confederate on the computer screen (a direct-interaction setting). In Experiment 2, bilingual and monolingual participants were asked to observe conversations of two randomly assigned confederates (an observational setting) so that no self-generation processing was involved. Source and destination memory did not vary as a function of language proficiency, providing evidence that contextual information is associated with item information at a conceptual level. Bilinguals outperformed monolinguals in source and destination memory when no self-generation was involved, suggesting that bilinguals form content-context associations more efficiently. Source memory was more accurate than destination memory in both experiments, indicating that people allocate less attention to destinations than to sources, whether self-generation is required or not. Source and destination accuracy were negatively associated, suggesting that allocating more attention to one takes attention away from the other.

Subject Area

Psychology|Cognitive psychology|Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

Tsuboi, Naoko, "Who Said What to Whom?: Contextual Memory Processes in Bilinguals" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29999552.