Beginning at the beginning: Recall order and the number of words to be recalled

Tan, L.H.T., Ward, G., Paulauskaite, L. & Markou, M. (2016). Beginning at the beginning: Recall order and the number of words to be recalled. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(8), pp. 1282-1292. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000234

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Abstract

When participants are asked to recall a short list of words in any order that they like, they tend to initiate recall with the first list item and proceed in forward order, even when this is not a task requirement. The current research examined whether this tendency might be influenced by varying the number of items that are to be recalled. In 3 experiments, participants were presented with short lists of between 4 and 6 words and instructed to recall 1, 2, 3, or all of the items from the lists. Data were collected using immediate free recall (IFR, Experiment 1), immediate serial recall (ISR, Experiment 2), and a variant of ISR that we call ISR-free (Experiment 3), in which participants had to recall words in their correct serial positions but were free to output the words in any order. For all 3 tasks, the tendency to begin recall with the first list item occurred only when participants were required to recall as many items from the list as they could. When participants were asked to recall only 1 or 2 items, they tended to initiate recall with end-of-list items. It is argued that these findings show for the first time a manipulation that eliminates the initial tendency to recall in forward order, provide some support for recency-based accounts of IFR and help explain differences between single-response and multiple-response immediate memory tasks.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/13845

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