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Study‐time effect on free recall within and out of context

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Three experiments examined whether or not the study‐time effect, which was observed when recall took place in the original environmental context, was eliminated or markedly diminished when recall took place in a different environmental context. A total of 456 undergraduates studied a list of words for either a short or long study time before receiving an oral free recall test under conditions where the original environmental context was or was not reinstated. Environmental context was manipulated by the combination of physical features of the room, subsidiary task, and experimenter. Inter‐item association was minimised in Experiment 1, and free recall performance was measured independently of inter‐item association in Experiments 2 and 3. The results were: (1) a greater study‐time effect was found when the original context was reinstated than when it was not reinstated, and (2) the study‐time effect disappeared when neither contextual nor inter‐item associative cues were available. The results suggest that environmental context is involved in the production of the study‐time effect.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Shizuoka University, Hamamatsu, Japan

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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