Social class limitations on the efficacy of imagery mnemonic instructions

Richardson, John T. E. (1987). Social class limitations on the efficacy of imagery mnemonic instructions. British Journal of Psychology, 78(1) pp. 65–77.



Many experimental studies have demonstrated that instructions to use mental imagery give rise to substantial improvements in memory performance. However, the subjects in most of these studies have been college students, and an experiment by Richardson & Barry (1985) which used subjects drawn from the general population failed to show such an improvement. Indeed, arguments may be educed to suggest that imagery mnemonic instructions should enhance performance only in the case of subjects who belong to the higher social classes. An extended analysis of the results obtained by Richardson & Barry classified their experimental subjects into social classes in terms of their current occupation and confirmed the predicted relationship between social class and the efficacy of imagery mnemonic instructions. Such results encourage a considerable degree of scepticism concerning the possibility of generalizing from samples of college students to the general population.

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