Research Repository

First things first: Similar list length and output order effects for verbal and nonverbal stimuli

Cortis, C and Dent, K and Kennett, S and Ward, G (2015) 'First things first: Similar list length and output order effects for verbal and nonverbal stimuli.' Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, 41 (4). 1179 - 1214. ISSN 0278-7393

Cortis Dent Kennett Ward.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (2MB) | Preview


When participants are presented with a short list of unrelated words and they are instructed that they may recall in any order, they nevertheless show a very strong tendency to recall in forward serial order. Thus, if asked to recall in any order: "hat, mouse, tea, stairs," participants often respond "hat, mouse, tea, stairs" even though there was no forward order requirement of the task. In 4 experiments, we examined whether this tendency is language-specific, reflecting mechanisms involved with speech perception, speech production, and/or verbal short-term memory. Specifically, we examined whether we would observe similar findings when participants were asked to recall, in any order, lists of between 1 and 15 nonverbal stimuli, such as visuospatial locations (Experiment 1, Experiment 3, Experiment 4), or touched facial locations (Experiment 2). Contrary to a language-specific explanation, we found corresponding tendencies (albeit somewhat reduced) in the immediate free recall of these nonverbal stimuli. We conclude that the tendency to initiate recall of a short sequence of items with the first item is a general property of memory, which may be augmented by verbal coding.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Kevin Dent
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2015 11:59
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 21:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item