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Free recall and organization as a function of varying relational encoding in action memory


A new approach was taken to study the question whether the free recall advantage of enacting actions (SPT), over only listening to their verbal descriptions (VT), is due to better relational encoding of SPTs than of VTs. The approach consisted of studying related lists and manipulating the degree of relational encoding by repeated list presentation in Experiment 1 and by presenting the list items at random or blocked in Experiment 2. In both experiments, free recall and adjusted ratio of clustering (ARC) scores increased as to be expected with repeated list presentation and blocking. However, these effects proved to be independent of the type of encoding. There was a clear SPT effect in free recall, but in contrast a slight though nonsignificant advantage of VTs over SPTs in ARC scores. Altogether, the experiments show that the SPT effect in free recall is not due to better relational encoding in SPTs than in VTs, in line with the assumption that this effect is due to good item-specific encoding.

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Engelkamp, J., Zimmer, H.D. Free recall and organization as a function of varying relational encoding in action memory. Psychological Research 66, 91–98 (2002).

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  • Free Recall
  • List Item
  • Verbal Description
  • Action Memory
  • List Presentation