Previous studies of memory for routine events (e.g., catching a plane) have pointed out two ways such events might be organized. Schank and Abelson's script theory has emphasized the temporal sequence of events, while story grammars have focused on events' hierarchical structure or centrality. The present experiments compare predictions from these two theories. In Experiment 1, subjects agreed in their rankings of both sequence and centrality. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrated that centrality, but not sequence, influenced time to decide whether an episode belongs to a routine. In Experiment 4, sequence alone affected decisions about which of two episodes occurred earlier; however, the sequence effect was opposite that predicted by script theory. These findings suggest that sequence and centrality information may be computed as needed, rather than precompiled.
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