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The aim of this study was to investigate into the Primacy and Recency effect. The study was based on Glanzer and Cunitzs research (1966) who suggested that when remembering words, if given an interference task, the recency effect will be virtually eliminated. It was therefore predicted that when a group of participants were recalling words after having an interference task there would be little, if no recency effect. However it was also predicted that when an interference task was not involved there would be both a primacy and recency effect.
The experiment was conducted on two groups of participants, 20 in each group. They were all students between the age of 16 and 18. This was an independent experiment. The findings form this study indicated that there was less of a recency effect when using an interference task then when not. Introduction The aim of this investigation to find out whether people remember material at the beginning of a list better than material at the end. A further aim is to show that when participants take a memory test with the involvement of an interference task there is no recency effect.
The recency effect can be defined as the tendency to recall items at the end of the list more readily than those in the middle (about the last 25%). The recency effect occurs due to the last lot of information still being in short term store. A familiar example of the recency effect is the observation that a pop group is only as good as there last hit song. People tend to remember things more clearly if they have happened recently. The recency effect can be measured using free recall, where participants are shown a list of words, and the later asked to recall them.
The recency effect is shown by the fact that the last few words in the list are usually remembered better than the middle. However, Glanzer and Cunitz (1966) found that counting backwards for only 10 seconds between the end of the list presentation and the start of recall (thus producing and interference task) virtually eliminated the recency effect, but had no other effect on recall. This can be explained by the fact that the counting backwards ‘interfered’ with the process of creating memory and so this wiped out the words towards the end of the list.
It can be seen that the rest of the list was not affected by the interference task, as they were now in long-term memory store. In Glanzer and Cunitz experiment the participants recalled the first few items in the list much better than those in the middle, this is known as the primacy effect. The primacy effect can be defined as a high level of free recall of the first items in a list (about the first 25%). The primacy effect depends mainly on rehearsal, in that the words at beginning of the list are rehearsed for longer than those in the middle.
The primacy effect was shown by Rundus and Atkinson (1970), who asked their participants to rehearse out loud any of the words they wanted to during list presentation. The recency effect is found when the results of a free recall task are plotted in the form of a serial position curve. Generally, this curve is U-shaped, and the recency effect corresponds to the tail of the U on the right. This tail indicates that words presented at the end of a list of to-be-remembered items are better remembered than words presented in the middle of this list.
It is called the recency effect because these items were the ones presented most recently to the subject in the memory experiment. The primacy effect is found when the results of a free recall task are plotted in the form of a serial position curve. Generally, this curve is U-shaped, and the primacy effect corresponds to the tail of the U on the left. This tail indicates that words presented at the start of a list of to-be-remembered items are better remembered than words presented in the middle of this list.
It is called the primacy effect because these items were the ones presented first to the subject in the memory experiment. The diagram below shows the multi-store model of memory designed by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968). It shows us how rehearsal is a vital part of the memory system. This model of memory can help to explain why interference will eliminate the recency effect. The recency effect is part of the short-term memory store, in that it is the last piece of information taken in and so, like all information, it goes into short-term store first.
What allows us to remember this information is through rehearsal, thus temporarily keeping it in short-term memory store. It is therefore clear to see that if rehearsal is taken away, as it is through an interference task, then there will be no recency effect. Experimental hypothesis If given a list of words to remember, involving an interference task, when recalled there will be a strong primacy effect, and little, if no recency effect.
This, one tailed hypothesis was formulated as previous research has indicated the existence of a primacy effect, and the elimination of the recency effect when using an interference task. However when undertaking the same task without interference there should be both a primacy and recency effect. Null hypothesis If given a list of words to remember involving an interference task, when recalled there will be no difference between how strong the recency and primacy effect is. Method Within this investigation there are two groups of participants, consisting of 20 different people in each group.
The participants used were all ‘A’ level students and were asked at random if they willing to take part. Some of these students studied psychology at ‘A’ level themselves and so may have known what the investigation was about, thus possibly affecting the final results. The type of design being used is that of independent measures. There are two main variables in this investigation, which will later be correlated; these are ‘word number’ and the total number of times each word was remembered by the participants.