ERIC Number: EJ1049587
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 83
Why Do Participants Initiate Free Recall of Short Lists of Words with the First List Item? Toward a General Episodic Memory Explanation
Spurgeon, Jessica; Ward, Geoff; Matthews, William J.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v40 n6 p1551-1567 Nov 2014
Participants who are presented with a short list of words for immediate free recall (IFR) show a strong tendency to initiate their recall with the 1st list item and then proceed in forward serial order. We report 2 experiments that examined whether this tendency was underpinned by a short-term memory store, of the type that is argued by some to underpin recency effects in IFR. In Experiment 1, we presented 3 groups of participants with lists of between 2 and 12 words for IFR, delayed free recall, and continuous-distractor free recall. The to-be-remembered words were simultaneously spoken and presented visually, and the distractor task involved silently solving a series of self-paced, visually presented mathematical equations (e.g., 3 + 2 + 4 = ?). The tendency to initiate recall at the start of short lists was greatest in IFR but was also present in the 2 other recall conditions. This finding was replicated in Experiment 2, where the to-be-remembered items were presented visually in silence and the participants spoke aloud their answers to computer-paced mathematical equations. Our results necessitate that a short-term buffer cannot be fully responsible for the tendency to initiate recall from the beginning of a short list; rather, they suggest that the tendency represents a general property of episodic memory that occurs across a range of time scales.
Descriptors: Recall (Psychology), Word Lists, Memory, College Students, Short Term Memory, Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)