The role of experimental design in investigations of the fan effect

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The more facts that individuals learn about a concept, the more difficulty they have in retrieving any one of the facts. This phenomenon is called the fan effect. The existence of the fan effect has generally been attributed to the interference that is encountered in searching through a network of interconnected concepts. In 2 experiments that tested a total of 76 undergraduates' memory of 40 sentences, some of which were interrelated, it was found that the fan effect occurred only when the facts with repeated concepts were stored as independent episodes. Thus, the fan effect tells nothing about the code formed by a pattern of interconnected concepts. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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