Effects of test expectancy, word frequency, and word concreteness on encoding workload

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The effort associated with relational and distinctive memory encoding was evaluated in two experiments. To this end, a secondary task was added during encoding, and the interference on the secondary task was used to infer encoding effort. Memory test expectancy was varied between-participants, with incidental, expect recognition, and expect recall conditions in Experiment 1, and recognition and recall conditions in Experiment 2. In both experiments, all participants encoded words varying in written frequency and rated concreteness. In Experiment 1, all participants received a recognition test regardless of test expectancy, and in Experiment 2, all participants received a test congruent with their expectancy. The results of Experiment 1 indicated that secondary task performance was sensitive to the addition of intentional encoding, as well as word concreteness. The results of Experiment 2 replicated those of Experiment 1 in that the secondary task appeared to be sensitive to differences in recognition and recall encoding operations. Further, the results demonstrated an interaction of frequency and concreteness on encoding effort when participants expected recall, whereas only concreteness affected encoding effort when participants expected recognition. The results are discussed in terms of Anderson and Bower's (1972, 1974) Human Associative Memory (HAM) model.




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