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Cognitive Experimental
Research Report.

The Effect of Word and Picture Stimuli on the Number of Items Recalled.

Abstract

Based on Standing’s (1973) examination of recognition memory and the recall of words and pictures which supported the picture superiority effect, this experiment measured the number of items recalled by participants that had either been given word or picture stimulus. The experiment was of an unrelated design in which thirty-four opportune sample participant’s from the University of Glamorgan were assigned to either a picture condition or a word condition and asked to memorise as many of the items from their assigned condition as possible. Based on previous evidence, the research hypothesis was that there would be a significant difference between memory for pictures and memory for words; however the results were non-significant, therefore the picture superiority effect was not supported in this study.

Introduction

Sternberg (1999) suggested that “Memory is the means by which we draw on our past experiences in order to use this information in the present” (Eysenck & Keane 2005, p. 207). According to psychological theorists the term memory covers three important aspects of information processing which are known as the stages of memory. The first stage is encoding (receive process and combine information), the second stage is storage (permanent record made of received information) and lastly there is the retrieval stage (recall of the stored information) (Eysenck & Keane 2005). Standing (1973) carried out four experiments to examine the capacity of memory and the retrieval speed for pictures and words. The third experiment conducted is the one that is relevant to this experiment as it examined the differences between picture and word stimulus on memory recall. Standing used a between participant design in which students aged between 18 and 25 learned two hundred visually presented words and visually presented pictures that had been shown to them for five seconds each. The findings showed a 51.6 recall for pictures and a 24.5 recall for words which supports the picture superiority effect that visual items are not only remembered better but are also recalled better than words. Standing’s hypothesis was based on Shepard’s (1967) earlier work in which he reported 60 per cent recognition for 612 pictures that were given to the participants in his experiment (Eysenck and Keane 2005). To examine whether Standing’s findings are still relevant today this experimental study employed a two tailed hypothesis to see whether there would be a difference between memory for pictures and memory for words and not just hypothesise that there would be picture superiority effect.

Method

Design

The experiment employed an unrelated design in which participants were either exposed to condition one (twenty-four pictures) or condition two (twenty-four words). The independent variable was the information shown which was manipulated by either exposing the participants to word or picture stimuli. The dependant variable was the number of items recalled by each participant. The experiment was controlled by placing each participant in separate rooms to ensure they were not exposed to both conditions. The participants were also asked not to discuss what they had participated in until the experiment had ended.

Participants

An opportune sample of thirty-four Psychology Undergraduate students (six males and twenty-eight females) from the University of Glamorgan...
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