Encoding strategy dynamics: When relationships between words determine strategy use

McDougal, Sine and Velmans, Max. 1993. Encoding strategy dynamics: When relationships between words determine strategy use. British Journal of Psychology, 84(2), pp. 227-248. ISSN 0007-1269 [Article]

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A number of questions remain largely unanswered about when subjects are likely to employ imagery as opposed to verbal encoding and the subsequent effect this will have on recall. The present experiments examined some of the factors determining such use. Subjects were asked to learn mixed lists of word pairs which were either spatially related (i.e. their referents normally appear in spatial contiguity) or categorically related (their referents are members of a shared superordinate category) using either imagery or verbal mediators throughout. For half the pairs the encoding instructions were appropriate to the relationship between words (e.g. the use of imagery for spatially related pairs) and for the other pairs the instructions were inappropriate (e.g. the use of imagery for categorically related pairs). Subjects were not influenced by experimental instructions under these conditions but overwhelmingly used encodings appropriate to the relationship between words. Furthermore, it was found that subjects were able to adjust encoding strategies from one pair to the next in a flexible manner in accordance with the nature of the relationship between words. What determines strategy use at a given instant appears to result from the interaction of cues provided by the experimental materials with prior world knowledge relating to individual words or combinations of words. Recall for categorically related pairs was better than for spatially related pairs despite the fact that imagery was used more frequently for spatially related pairs and both types of pair were rated equally for concreteness and imageability. Alternative explanations for this finding are discussed.

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Date Deposited:

12 Apr 2019 16:30

Last Modified:

12 Apr 2019 16:30

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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