The relative distinctiveness principle states that performance on memory tasks depends on how much an item stands out “relative to the background of alternatives from which it must be distinguished” at the time of retrieval (Fisher, 1981, p. 310). It is important to keep in mind that one of the determinants of whether an item is more or less distinct at the time of retrieval, relative to other items, is the relation between the conditions at encoding and those at retrieval (the encoding retrieval principle). It is meaningless to talk of an item’s being distinct (or not) in the absence of a specification of the encoding and retrieval processes and the nature of the competing items.