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Paper Topic:

Serial Position Curve


Serial Position Curve

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Serial Position Curve


One of the ways to study human memory is by means of using a free recall task . The free recall experiment is a method by which the subject is given a list of various items that should be remembered , in this case the items to be remembered are presented on a manner of reading the list to the subject . The introduction of new item has an interval of four

br seconds . The subject is then asked to write the items that he /she remembered in any . The result of this experiment is then plotted into a graph . The free recall experiment 's data that was plotted into the graph is called the Serial Position Curve (UACSD 1995

The Serial Position Curve is represented by the x-axis and the y-axis The serial position of the items that was used in the experiment is specified by the x-axis . On the other hand , the chance that the item will be recalled is indicated by the y- axis . The significance of the serial position curve was appreciated due to the discovery of the two effects exhibited by the said curve . The effects that were exhibited by the curve were called the recency and the primary effect . Both effects were found to be significant in the study of the functional decomposition of human memory (UACSD 1995

The primacy effect states that the subject remembers the items at the beginning of the list relative to those that are in the middle of the list . This is presented by the tail in the U-shaped curve on the left side of the curve . The primacy effect was the result of the utilization of the semantic memory . On the other hand , the recency effect is the effect where the subject remembers the items found on the later part of the list . It is presented by the U-shaped curve where the tail is found on the right side . Recency effect is the results form the use of the primary memory this manner expresses how the short term memory works (UACSD 1995

Generally , the items found on the beginning and ending of the list are often remembered compared to the items in the middle of the list . This phenomenon is due to the processes of the short term and long term memory


The serial position curve can be explained via different theories , the Dual Coding theory , Duplex Model and the levels of processing . As stated above , the Serial Position Curve is the resulting curve that is presented by the free recall activity . This phenomenon of producing a curve was explained by the work of Paivio in his Dual Coding Theory

The theory states that there are two units being represented , the imagens ' and the logogens ' these are the mental images and the verbal subjects respectively . The theory also identifies three processes which are representational ' referential ' associative processing ' Representational refers to the...

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