Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 2 (March/April 1991), Pages fmi-fmi, 87-172

The effect of subject‐generated and experimentersupplied code words on the phonetic mnemonic system (pages 135-148)


The hypothesis tested proposed that subjects using the phonetic mnemonic system who were supplied code words by the experimenter would recall more numbers than either subjects generating their own code words or a control group. In Experiment 1,36 undergraduate subjects serving in a 3 × (3) mixed‐factorial design confirmed the hypothesis, but the possibility existed that the superiority of the experimenter‐supplied group was attributable to the failure of the subject‐generated group to devise a complete set of code words. In Experiment 2 a new group of 12 self‐generated subjects was tested with a modified procedure designed to maximize number of correct code words. However, the experimenter‐supplied group recalled significantly more numbers than this group, too. In Experiment 3 the possibility was tested that the superiority of the experimenter‐supplied subjects was an artifact based on insufficient training in the phonetic method of subjects creating code words. Accordingly, all 28 subjects received extended training before recall of a subject‐generated group was tested against that of an experimenter‐supplied group in a 2 × (2) factorial design. Once again the experimentersupplied group recalled significantly more numbers, confirming the hypothesis. These results represent an exception to the general finding that subject‐generated mnemonics are superior to those supplied by the experimenter. The data suggest that the relative efficacy of the two sources interacts with the difficulty of the mnemonic.

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