Encoding context and set size

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Three experiments with 336 undergraduates focused on the issue of whether 2 principles are necessary to explain amount recalled in the cuing paradigm. The nature of encoding context cues and their presence during study were varied. Cues were word endings, taxonomic category names, rhymes, or associates; and they were present only at test or at both study and test. Encoding time, cue-target associative strength, and set size also were varied. Results indicate that when cues were presented only at test, recall was better for strong cues and for smaller set sizes regardless of cue type. In contrast, when cues were present during both phases, set size influenced the effectiveness of the sensory but not the semantic cues. Recall from large semantic sets was equal to recall from small sets. For large sets, recall with semantic cues exceeded recall with sensory cues. Explanation of amount recalled seems to require at least 2 factors: cue-target similarity and number of relevant alternatives. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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