Essay on Long Term Memory Recency Effect

This report is designed to investigate the short term memory & the recency effect alongside the long term memory & the primacy effect. A task of recalling two sets of words (unrelated and related) were used and a sample of 20 mixed (M & F) psychology students in a within subject design. The data was collected and interpreted on a graph and the results show that the primacy and the recency effect, which supports the idea of two separate stores. Introduction This report will discuss an experiment to study the relationship of short-term memory and long-term memory of related words and unrelated words.

Everyone has different capabilities within memory, some people have a good short term memory and bad long term memory and vice versa, so it seems reasonable to ask questions regarding the recollection of related and unrelated words. Atkinson and Shiffrin (1970) first defined memory into 3 different memory systems; sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory. Sensory memory has a large capacity but most information fades too quickly to be processed (Sperling 1960). Short term memory has a quite quick input and retrieval and has a span of approximately seven items, plus or inus two (Miller 1965).

Lastly, long term memory is the long lasting memory system which has limitless capabilities but takes longer to recover and to store (Baddely 1990). In short term memory, it is known that there is both primacy and recency effects. The primacy effect is when items at the start of the list are remembered compared to the items from the middle and the recency effect is where items at the end are better remembered. It is suggested that the primacy effect is due to rehearsal of the early items which are then encoded into long erm memory and recency due to recall of the later items which are still in short term memory (Craik and Tulvig 1975).

The objective of the experimentation is to test whether unrelated and related words were remembered at the start (primacy) or at the end (recency). This report will show the processes for the experiment, the experiment’s results, and an analysis of those results. Method Participants – A sample of 20 Psychology undergraduate students (males and females) were used with ages ranging from 17-38 and all participated voluntarily. Each participant completed both conditions.

Apparatus – There was two different recall stimuli, a related word list (barman, beer, menu, stool etc. ) and an unrelated word list (rector, realm, valour, irony etc. ) all recalled and recorded on the QVR application. There was a total of fourteen words on each list. Design – A repeated measures design was used with all participants recalling both (related and unrelated words) and was conducted in a within subject design. Procedure – Condition 1 – The experimenter read a list of unrelated English words at the rate of one per second.

Once the list was read out the experimenter says ‘recall’ articipants are given two minutes and have to write down in any order, as many of the words from the list as possible. The experimenter will then read the list again, and before each word, say the position on the list. Participants were to note how many words were recalled correctly and also how many words recalled that were not on the list (these are called intrusions) Condition 2 – The procedure is the same as condition 1 with the difference being that all the words are related in that they are from the same semantic field or the same topic.

Results Table 1 Total Words Recalled(Unrelated)Total Words Recalled (Related) Difference (Related – Unrelated) Mean 6. 610. 23. 6 Standard Deviation 1. 187655807 1. 105012503 1. 187655807 Standard Error 0. 265567912 0. 247088307 0. 265567912 t-value 13. 5558546 Table 1 shows the mean number of words recalled and the difference in each condition The descriptive statistics in table 1 show the mean number of words recalled in each condition. A mean score of 6. 6 for the unrelated words list but the highest score was 10. 2 for the related words.

Graph 1 This graph shows the proportion of unrelated words emembered and the position of each word recalled. For example, the fourth word read out was remembered by 40% (0. 4) of the test subjects and the fourteenth and last word was recalled by 100% (1) Graph 2 This graph shows the proportion of the related words remembered and the position in which they were recalled. For example the second word that was read out was recalled by 0. 8 (80%) of the participants and the fourteenth and last word was recalled by 100% of participants.

In graph 1, the unrelated words were recalled at the start (primacy) and at the end (recency) with ot as many recalled in the middle, so the serial position curve should, if the data is normally distributed, look similar to the letter U In graph 2, the related words, was similar to graph 1 in that more were recalled at the start (primacy) and at the end (recency) but with the second list being related it’s going to be easier to recall more of the words from the middle of the list and the graph shows just that.

Discussion The aim of this study was to find out if a related list of words was easier to recall than a list of unrelated words. 20 undergraduate students were tested on each list (related and nrelated words) The red line shows the related words, the blue line shows the unrelated words. The results, as analysed in the two graphs combined, shows the differences and the position of the words and the number of words recalled in both conditions and clearly shows the primacy and recency effect.

It also shows that the words in the middle are easier to recall if they are related. The results show that Miller (1960) was right in saying the capacity in short term memory could hold 7 plus or minus 2. They also show that its easier to recall if they are related or like Morris et l (1985) showed that with previous knowledge of football, it was them who performed better at short term memory recall of football scores. Which suggests that long term memory can influence the performance of short term memory.

Conclusion The experiment started by reading a list of 14 unrelated words and then given two minutes to recall as many as possible followed by a list of 14 related words and then to recall as many as possible in two minutes. Results were gathered using the QVR Application On the basis of this experiment, the results support he theory that the primacy effect and the recency effect do exist and it is easier to remember words at the start and at the end of the list.

This study could have benefitted from a larger sample size and maybe look at a wider demographic by including not just undergraduate students and to have a broader age range. This experiment could have been expanded to maybe include different sets of words (e. g. connected by colour, word arrangement or even pictures). Other things that could have been changed was the way the experiment was carried out (classroom environment and not full attention being payed)