Serial Position Effect in Memory Recall | Research Study

1430 words (6 pages) Essay in Psychology

22/05/17 Psychology Reference this

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Memory recall plays a very important role in the daily lives of humans, particularly for students whose exams require memorization and recall. Research has supported the idea that organization, isolation, and cues enhance memory recall. Isolation and cues presented varied between experiments but color was commonly used. The present experiment tested memory recall while manipulating a certain aspect of the stimulus. The present study also examined the effect of serial position on recall.

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Von Restorff (1933), using both serial and paired-associate lists, found that when relatively isolated items of one type were embedded in lists containing other “massed” material, the recall of the isolated items was superior. Von Restorff maintains that the isolation effect does not depend upon structural isolation of items within a list He believed that the isolation effect comes from an increase of attention to a given item and that increase of attention changes the structure of the list. This means that in serial lists the material grouped together has no relevance to the isolation effect. Past literature exploring the aspects of the Von Restorff effect support these findings. Erickson (1996) found that adding color to items produced a significant increase in the isolation effect compared to when an item was being presented alone normally. The isolated pairs were learned more easily than the non isolated pairs. Fabiani and Donchin (1995) showed that in recognition tests, the isolation effect (IE) was obtained when the encoding context was reinstated. These results were consistent with a model of the IE that stresses the role of the encoding processes immediately following the presentation of distinctive events, and that creates interactions between these processes and subsequent elaboration of the stimuli. Klee and Gardiner (1980) experimented and got results that performance of memory recall was more successful when subjects were cued than when they were not cued with certain information within a mass.

The serial position effect refers to the finding that recall accuracy varies as a function of an item’s position within a study list. Bower and Clark-Meyers (1980) conducted an experiment where the findings supported that organizational positioning of words formed a superiority recall compared to when items were disorganized. This organizational positioning refers to words being presented formally and organized back to back which reinforced recall of certain words within the organization, for example more recall for the first and last words of a group presented. Guérard, Hughes, & Tremblay (2008) combined their experiment by testing both the Von Restorff Effect and serial positioning effect. The main results of their study showed for the first time that the isolation effect, or Von Restorff effect, extends to the spatial-memory domain. Performance for the isolated item was enhanced regardless of whether its position was fixed or randomized, but the magnitude of the effect was increased when the isolated item was presented in a fixed serial position than when presented in a random serial position.

According to the previous studies looking at the serial position effect and the Von Restorff effect we expect there will be various findings. The first finding we believe will occur is that the isolated stimulus will be more easily recalled. The second hypothesis is that there will be the presence of a serial position effect. The final hypothesis made is that by combining the isolation and serial position effect the word presented red and seventh every time will be the superior word remembered among the groups.

Method

Participants

104 participants of undergraduate students from University of South Carolina ranging in age from 18 to 25 years participated voluntarily in the experiment for research participation credit in undergraduate Psychology class. All participants were unaware of the purpose of the study.

Materials

Lab classroom used with Dell computers model Dell precision T5500 and one 82 inch projector screen projector model NEC NP901W. Individual consent form paper was given signed and returned to experimenter. Paper provided by experimenter with given specified space to put answers for experiment. Participants used own writing utensil. Individual swivel cushioned desk chairs provided seating. Students ranged from 5 feet to 23 feet away from screen. Words shown on screen were size 32 Calibri font with one word in each experimental set being red. Word length ranged from 4 to 8 letters. Examples of basic words included wine, mine, charm and free. Examples of complex words included Thursday, saddle, and chimney.

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Procedure

Participants were given instructions to watch when words were presented on the screen from the projector and after list was shown to write down as many words as they remembered in designated space. Participants were asked if they were ready and confirmed readiness before procedure was given. The procedure began with practice trial of 5 words presented one at a time for one second. Participants were then given time to write down words they remembered in space provided specifically for the Practice Trial. Three real experimental trials were given consecutively after practice. Real experiment trials showed 15 words one at a time for one second, the seventh word of each set was presented in red. After each trial, participants were given time to write down words they remembered in designated space for specific trial number before moving on to next trial. When trials completed paper with written responses from practice and experimental trial were returned to the experimenter. Overall time took between 5 and 10 minutes.

Results

A one-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that there was a significant effect of word position on recall F (14, 1442) =72.26, p < .05. There was a significant effect between the red seventh word and the rest of the words such as the third (M = .77, SD= .84) the fourth (M = .72, SD = .73) the fifth (M = .79, SD = .81) and the sixth (M = .59, SD = .73). Pairwise comparisons were used to determine that there was not a significant difference between the red seventh word (M = 1.92, SD = 0.81) the first word (M = 2.05, SD = .94), the second word (M = 1.97, SD = 0.92) the fourteenth word (M = 1.94, SD = .85, and the fifteenth (last) word (M = 1.9, SD = .78).

Discussion

We hypothesized that the isolated stimulus will be more easily recalled, that there will be the presence of a serial position, and that by combining the isolation and serial position effect, the word presented red and seventh every time would be most easily remembered. All of our hypotheses were supported. We performed an experiment where participants were given instructions to watch words presented on the screen from the projector and after list was shown to write down as many words as they remembered in designated space. The seventh word of every word list was presented in red for isolation. There was a significant difference between the red word and words 2 through 14, but the first and last word were not significantly different from the seventh, red word. The findings from this experiment provide evidence that supports the serial positioning and the Von Restorff Effect and is consistent with the literature .Erickson (1996) found any addition of color to the items increased the significance of the isolation effect compared to words being presented alone, without distinction. The isolated pairs were learned more easily than the non isolated pairs. Fabiani and Donchin (1995) showed that in recognition tests, the isolation effect (IE) was obtained when the encoding context was reinstated. Klee and Gardiner (1980) found that performance on a memory recall task was better when subjects were cued than when they were not cued with certain information within a mass.

The serial position effect refers to the finding that recall accuracy varies as a function of an item’s position within a study list. Bower and Clark-Meyers (1980) conducted an experiment where the findings supported that memory recall was better when positioning of the words were organized than unorganized. Guerard, Hughes, and Tremblay (2008) conducted an experiment to test both the Von Restorff Effect and serial positioning effect. They demonstrated that the isolation effect extends to the spatial-memory domain. Performance for the isolated item was enhanced regardless of whether its position was fixed or randomized, but the magnitude of the effect was increased when the isolated item was presented in a fixed serial position than when presented in a random serial position. Such manipulations would be beneficial for students needing to remember a specific section of material for an exam or something as simple as an item on a grocery list that cannot be forgotten. Someone going on a job interview, and wanting to be remembered by the interviewer, can try to be interviewed first or last among others being interviewed or wear a unique color different from everyone else.

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