Comparatively evaluates models of how people encode and retrieve information from short narrative texts. Twenty models were derived from assumptions about (1) whether propositions are differentially encoded according to narrative importance, (2) whether text memory is hierarchical or heterarchical, (3) whether memory retrieval depends primarily on direct access or top-down search, and (4) whether lexical information is retained in memory. In experiments, subjects attempted to learn four texts and were tested--immediately or after one hour delay--for recall and recognition. Propositional recall, but not recognition, varied as a function of importance. On recognition tests, subjects distinguished statements taken directly from the texts from paraphrases of statements. The data suggest (1) subjects retain lexical information, (2) narrative schemata provide a framework for encoding all test propositions, (3) these schemata are hierarchically organized, and (4) the schemata are used for top-down retrieval.
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