The Influence of Context and Perceptual Clues on Memory Recall.

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• Abstract
The influence of context and perceptual clues on memory recall.

The influence of context on memory recall was examined in an experiment based on Godden and Baddeley’s (1975) Context Dependent Memory study. Previous research suggests that memory recall is improved when learning and recall occur in the same environment. The current experiment examined the importance of context and perceptual clues in memory recall by manipulating the learning and recall environments for a memory task using a list of 30 random words tested on three groups of participants: each group learnt a list of words in one environment and recalled them in either (a) the same environment, (b) outside or (c) the same environment with their eyes closed. The research hypothesis was that ‘more words would be recalled when the learning and recall environments were the same’. The results showed that recall was slightly higher when there was a change in environment between learning and recall, although the difference between conditions was of no statistical significance. In light of this, the research hypothesis has been rejected.

• Introduction

From 1930’s until now several context-dependent memory recall experiments held by psychologists like Pessin (1932), Farsnworth (1934), Greenspoon and Ranyard (1957), Jensen at al (1971), Godden and Baddeley (1975) and many more. However, some of them failed to observe any effect on context dependent memory recall and they were far from convincing. Moreover, research undertaken by Godden and Baddeley (1975) studied the effect of context in memory recall and tested the hypothesis that; “Lists learned underwater were best recalled underwater and visa versa”. In their research, they have applied a free recall experiment to scuba divers and participants learnt lists of words in two natural environments; on dry land and underwater so that the process of recalling the words in either the environment of original learning or in the alternative environment would be observed. The experiment results demonstrated that recall was not affected by the initial learning environment when this was the same as the recall environment. However, when recall took place in a different environment to the one in which the learning had taken place, recall was not as good. The study therefore concluded that being in the same environment for learning, the impact of the context on recall does appear to enhance recall. Once this was established a second experiment was carried out to test whether a disruption between the time of learning and recall would affect recall. In the study of Godden and Baddeley (1975) the difference was very slight.

The need for this study is due to the attempt to replicate the findings of Godden and Baddeley (1975) by examining the importance of context in learning and recall. In addition, we will examine whether lack of perceptual cues in the environment affects recall. Therefore, this study intends to look at the importance of contextual cues in memory recall and aims to further examine the findings of Godden and Baddeley by asking a group of 75 adult participants to memorise a group of random words in one of three conditions.


• To examine and understand: -
– The importance of contextual cues in memory recall – Whether the lack of perceptual cues in the environment affects recall

HYPOTHESIS: More words will be recalled by participants when they are recalled in the same context they learned them in then recalling in different context.

• Condition 1 is where the participant learns the words in the same location as they will recall them. • Condition 2 is where the participant learns the words and then is asked to recall them in a different location. • Condition 3 is where the...
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