Chapter 1: A Reading System for Effective Readers
Lab Activity 2: The Reading Process: Before Reading
To use the survey and questioning steps of SQ3R in preparing to read a selection.
Step 2: Read the following excerpt from a college psychology textbook. Then answer the questions that follow.
Primacy and Recency Effects
1 In a typical memory experiment, a participant may be asked to do something very similar to the memory task you just attempted: study a list of words and recall as many of the items as possible so that the researcher can determine whether the information was transferred from short-term memory storage to long-term memory. If the list is 30 or 40 items long, such experiments typically show an overall recall rate of 20%, but memory is not even throughout the list. Recall is highest for words at the beginning of a series than for those in the middle, a phenomenon termed the primacy effect. This effect occurs because no information related to the task at hand is already stored in short-term storage; at the moment a person begins a new task, attention to new stimuli is at its peak. In addition, words at the beginning of a series get to be rehearsed more often, allowing them transferred to long-term memory. Thus, the primacy effect is associated with long-term memory processes. Examine your recall of the list—you probably recalled "horse," "cabin," and "water," but possibly not "heart," "bugle," or "night."
2 However, recall is even higher for words at the end of the series—a phenomenon termed the recency effect. These more recently presented items are still being held in short-term storage, where they can be actively rehearsed without interference as they re encoded for long-term memory. The recency effect is thus thought to be related to short-term storage. Examine your recall list again—did you recall "movie" and "grape"?
3 When one item on a list differs from the others—an adjective in a series of common nouns or a longer word in a series of short ones—the one different item is learned more easily. This is the phenomenon called the von Restorff effect. Did you recall the world "constitutional"? If you did, you illustrated the von Restorff effect.
4 People use perceptual imagery every day as a long-term memory retrieval aid. Imagery is the creation or re-creation of a mental picture of a sensory or perceptual experience. People constantly invoke images to recall things they did, said, read, or saw. You may have used imagery to help you memorize the list at the beginning of this section; those words have images that are easy to create. Peoples imagery systems can be activated by visual, auditory, or olfactory stimuli or by other images. Imagery helps you answer questions such as these: Which is darker green, a pea or a Christmas tree? Which is bigger, a tennis ball or a baseball? Does the person you met last night have brown eyes or blue?
5 One technique researchers use to study imagery is to ask participants to imagine objects of various sizes—for example, an animal such as a rabbit next to either an elephant or a fly. In a 1975 study by Stephen Kosslyn of Harvard University, participants reported that when they imagined a fly, plenty of room remained in their mental image for a rabbit. However, when they imagined an elephant, it took up most of the space. One particularly interesting result was that the participants required more time and found it harder to see a rabbits nose when the rabbit was next to an elephant than when it was next to a fly, because the nose appeared to be extremely small in the first instance.
6 Although they are mental, not physical, phenomena, images have "edges" like those on a photographs—points beyond which visual information ceases to be represented. These and other properties of mental images have been useful in a wide variety of studies designed to measure the nature and speed of thought.
7 Imagery is an important perceptual memory aid. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that it is a means of preserving perceptual information that might otherwise decay. According to Allan Paivio, a person told to remember two words may form an image combining those words. Someone told to remember the words house and hamburger, for example, might form an image of a house made of hamburgers or of a hamburger on top of a house. When the person is later presented with the word house, the word hamburger will be easy to retrieve because the imagery aided retrieval. Paivio suggests that words paired in this way become conceptually linked, with the image as the crucial factor.
Lefton & Brannon, Psychology, 8th ed., pp. 283>285.
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