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The serial position effect, a term coined by Herman Ebbinghaus, describes how the position of an item in a sequence affects recall accuracy. The two concepts involved, the primacy effect and the recency effect, explains how items presented at the beginning of a sequence and the end of a sequence are recalled with greater accuracy than items in the middle of a list.

Words presented either early in the list or at the end were more often recalled, but the ones in the middle were more often forgotten. This is known as serial position effect.
Experiments show that when participants are presented with a list of words, they tend to remember the first few and last few words and are more likely to forget those in the middle of the list. This is known as the serial position effect.

There are different levels of memory that information can pass through:
Sensory memory (very short lived – E.g. 0.5 seconds)
short-term memory (can hold about 7 items for 30 seconds)
Long-term memory (Unlimited amount of information for up to a lifetime)

Sensory memory
Retains all the visual and auditory input received for a few seconds.
Only selected images and sounds are encoded into short-term memory.

STM has a limited capacity and holds information for a short time.
The capacity of STM can be improved by ‘chunking’.
STM can also process data, to a limited extent, as well as store it.
This ‘working memory model’ explains why the STM can perform simple cognitive tasks.
Memory span - Can only hold about 7 pieces of information.
Information is held for about 30 seconds, during which time retrieval is very accurate.
After this they are either transferred to the next level or lost by:
displacement (pushed out by new information) or decay
Chunking; A chunk is a meaningful unit of information made up of several smaller units, which helps to increase memory span.
Rehearsal involves repeating to yourself over and over again (silently or out loud) a piece of information that you are trying to memorise.
This process helps to extend the time for which the information is maintained in the STM.
The function of the STM causes the last few objects to recalled

LTM has an unlimited capacity and holds information for a long time.
Rehearsal is regarded as a shallow form of encoding information into LTM, it facilitates transfer from STM to LTM.
Information that is organised into logical categories is more easily transferred from STM to LTM.
Making use of contextual cues aids this. Contextual cues relate to the time and place when the information was initially encoded into LTM.
Elaboration (adding meaning to) is regarded as a deeper form of encoding which leads to improved information retention. Elaboration of meaning aids transfer as it makes the information more interesting and meaningful so is more likely to be successfully stored in the LTM.
Rehearsal;The first few objects have enough time to be rehearsed and is transferred to the LTM. The last few are remembered because they are still in the STM.

BD; in this experiment, 3 groups of 10 participants all of the age 17 years old were given a minute to recall a list of 12 objects after they were presented on a PowerPoint presentation with an automatic timer. They were given a 5 second interval between each object for rehearsal. The independent variable was the position of the object in the list and the dependant variable was the recall percentage.

A; Despite the graph from the internet source using words and my graph using objects, the results of both experiments show that recall is best for the words/objects shown at the end (recency effect), closely followed by those shown at the start (primacy effect) and those in the middle gain a poor score.

E; The experiment was completed by large groups simultaneously instead of each individual completing it separately. Allowing these to individuals to participate together in a group may have affected the reliability of the results as the individuals may have cheated by sharing answers.
Instead of using a manual timer, I used an automatic timer on a PowerPoint to increase validity of results as each individual had exactly 5 seconds (the original time period) to between objects in order to recall that object.
The individuals involved in the experiment were of a specific age. This element allowed the results of the experiment to be more valid as aspects such as memory loss etc. Correlated with ageing is removed from the experiment.
Last edited by N3rfed_N3rd; 1 year ago
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So um.. what's your question?
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Report Thread starter 1 year ago
(Original post by ThePsychKid)
So um.. what's your question?
Uhh there’s no question I’m just providing some notes on the serial position effect

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