Variations in the negative recency effect

Richardson, John T. E. (1979). Variations in the negative recency effect. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 14(6) pp. 401–403.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03329491

Abstract

The negative recency effect has been reliably demonstrated in a final, cumulative recall test but not in an initial recall test delayed by an irrelevant interpolated activity. One explanation of this is that a distractor task induces elaborative encoding on the terminal list items; however, a negative recency effect has been found in an initial, delayed recall test following auditory presentation. Another explanation of variations in negative recency is that visual presentation induces elaborative encoding on the terminal list items. An experiment was carried out to test this hypothesis, using immediate initial testing and visual presentation. A negative recency effect was found with material of high imageability but not with material of low imageability. It was concluded that the negative recency effect is caused by the fact that subjects do not image the last few items presented in a free recall task, but that, under conditions of visual presentation, an irrelevant distractor task will induce the employment of mental imagery as an elaborative code on all of the items in a list.

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