Mental imagery and memory: Coding ability or coding preference?

Richardson, John T. E. (1978). Mental imagery and memory: Coding ability or coding preference? Journal of Mental Imagery, 2(1) pp. 101–116.

Abstract

Previous studies on individual differences in the use of mental imagery have been concerned almost exclusively with imagery ability. Neither subjective nor objective measures of this ability correlate with performance in memory tasks. A procedure is described for evaluating the likelihood that an S will encode a verbal stimulus as a mental image. Two experiments with a total of 108 college students showed that Ss who exhibited a high preference for imagery coding produced poorer performance in free recall than Ss preferring verbal encoding. It is concluded that Ss who encode items as images do so in a separative manner and that an investigation of coding preference is likely to prove more fruitful than the study of coding ability.

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