Does Word Length or Orthographical Neighbourhood Size Effect Working Memory?

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Does Word Length or Orthographical Neighbourhood Size Effect Working Memory?


Baddeley, Thomson and Buchanan (1975) were the first to systematically examine the effect of word length on memory finding that short words were recalled more easily than long words. This became known as the word length effect (WLE; Baddeley et al. 1975). Since this study WLE was further examined and presented mixed results (e.g. Baddeley, 2000; Cowan et al, 1992; Lewandowsky & Oberauer, 2009; Lovatt, Avons & Masterson, 2000). In 2011 Jalbert, Neath, Bireta, and Surprenant suggested that previous research conducted may have been subject to a confounding variable, orthographical neighbourhood size (ONS). In a study by Jalbert, Neath and Surprenant (2011) it was concluded that neighbourhood size, not length of the word, is important; therefore forgetting in short-term memory may be due to other variables than decay. The present study was further investigating the effect of word length and ONS by using 2x2 within groups ANOVA. The independent variables were word length and ONS. They both had two levels: 1 syllable (short) and 3 syllables (long) for word length and 3-5 neighbours (small) and 7-9 neighbours (large) for neighbourhood size. Words for the ONS were selected using MCWord, an online orthographic database (Medler & Binder, 2005). The dependent variable was the number of words successfully recalled in the correct order. It was hypothesized that short words would be recalled better than long words, and that words with a large ONS would be recalled better than words with a small ONS. There will be no interaction between the two groups. There were eight participants (Leeds Met undergraduates) selected through convenience sampling. The experiment was run with the use of E-prime (Schneider, Eschman, & Zuccolotto, 2002). Participants were presented with six words then words were displayed on the left side of the screen, participants were asked to...
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