Recency-Sensitive Retrieval Processes in Long-Term Free Recall

Author: Robert Bjork, William B. Whitten

Year: 1974

Paper Description

The purpose of the study was to challenge the two-process theory of serial position effects in free recall. The two-process theory says that short-term memory and long-term memory both play a role in free recall, with short-term memory being responsible for the recency effect and long-term memory being responsible for the primacy effect. The researchers designed their experiments to eliminate the role of short-term memory and the differential processing of early items in a list.

Key Takeaway 1

The two-process theory of free recall says that short-term memory and long-term memory both play a role in how we remember things. However, some researchers believe that this theory is incomplete or even wrong. They argue that the way that free recall experiments are typically designed masks the true influence of the order in which we learn things on how we remember them from long-term memory.

Key Takeaway 2

The order in which we learn things only affects how well we remember them because it affects how easily we can access them in our long-term memory. Researchers are working on developing a formula to predict how well we will be able to remember things based on the order in which we learned them and the amount of time that has passed since we learned them.

Standout Quote

“The long-term effects of input serial position exhibited herein arise from retrieval processes at the time of output rather than from storage processes at the time of input.”

Tags

memory, retrieval practice, cognitive science, brain, learning, remembering, knowledge, maintenance, thinking, forgetting, disuse, recognition, context, cognitive psychology, encoding