ERIC Number: EJ1080417
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 38
Serial Position Functions in General Knowledge
Kelley, Matthew R.; Neath, Ian; Surprenant, Aimée M.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v41 n6 p1715-1727 Nov 2015
Serial position functions with marked primacy and recency effects are ubiquitous in episodic memory tasks. The demonstrations reported here explored whether bow-shaped serial position functions would be observed when people ordered exemplars from various categories along a specified dimension. The categories and dimensions were: actors and age; animals and weight; basketball players and height; countries and area; and planets and diameter. In all cases, a serial position function was observed: People were more accurate to order the youngest and oldest actors, the lightest and heaviest animals, the shortest and tallest basketball players, the smallest and largest countries, and the smallest and largest planets, relative to intermediate items. The results support an explanation of serial position functions based on relative distinctiveness, which predicts that serial position functions will be observed whenever a set of items can be sensibly ordered along a particular dimension. The serial position function arises because the first and last items enjoy a benefit of having no competitors on 1 side and therefore have enhanced distinctiveness relative to mid-dimension items, which suffer by having many competitors on both sides.
Descriptors: Undergraduate Students, Serial Ordering, Memory, Semantics, Experiments, Accuracy, Predictor Variables, Stimuli, Task Analysis, Knowledge Level, Statistical Analysis, Error Patterns, Recall (Psychology)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois