Backward recall and the word length effect

Surprenant, Aimee M. and Brown, Mark A. and Jalbert, Annie and Neath, Ian and Bireta, Tamra J. and Tehan, Gerald (2011) Backward recall and the word length effect. American Journal of Psychology, 124 (1). pp. 75-86. ISSN 0002-9556

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The word length effect, the finding that words that have fewer syllables are recalled better than otherwise comparable words that have more syllables, is one of the benchmark effects that must be accounted for in any model of serial recall, and simulation models of immediate memory rely heavily on the finding. However, previous research has shown that the effect disappears when participants are asked to recall the items in strict backward order. The present 2 experiments replicate and extend that finding by manipulating the participant’s foreknowledge of recall direction (Experiment 1) and by giving the participant repeated practice with one direction by blocking recall direction (Experiment 2). In both experiments, a word length effect obtained with forward but not backward recall. The results are problematic for all models that currently have an a priori explanation for word length effects. The finding can be accounted for but is not predicted by Scale-Independent Memory, Perception, and Learning (SIMPLE), a model in which item and order information are differentially attended to in the 2 recall directions.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright of American Journal of Psychology is the property of University of Illinois Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2012 07:41
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2014 00:53
Uncontrolled Keywords: attention; awareness; human; learning; psychological model; reading; semantics; short term memory
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170201 Computer Perception, Memory and Attention
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170110 Psychological Methodology, Design and Analysis
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology > 520499 Cognitive and computational psychology not elsewhere classified
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520105 Psychological methodology, design and analysis
39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390409 Learning sciences
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
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