Essay on Cognitive Psychology

Submitted By VJancevska1
Words: 777
Pages: 4

Environmental context effect of background sound in free recall

BSc Psychology with Criminology

Ø According to Tulvig (1983) encoding specificity principle, items are encoded in a specific way, and effective retrieval cues must reflect that specifity (Craik et al. 1996)
Ø It is assumed that the context in which learning occurs has an important role in determining memory performance in animals and humans. Reinstating the original learning context at the retrieval produces optimal performance, and changes in context between study and test have destructive effects on memory. Environmental context refers to the aspects of surroundings and background in which learning takes place (Hockley, 2008)
Ø Memory tests that were taken in the same environment as when the material was studied are performed better than those performed in the different environment (Grant et al, 1998).

Ø Study by Godden and Baddeley (1975) – SCUBA divers learned list of words underwater or on land, then had to recall this list of words underwater or on land...(Wedge and Barry, 2008) vs. Ø Words learned underwater were best recalled underwater, words learned on land were best recalled on land.
Ø Abernethy (1940) varied the room and the proctor for psychology course’s final exam. Students took exam in the same or different room with either familiar or unfamiliar proctor. Students performed better when the room and proctor were the same as the original context and worst when they were different ( Wedge and Barry, 2008).

Ø Not all studies have found that environmental context can have effect. Environmental settings can affect recall but not recognition (contextual cues might serve the purpose of generating the items to be recalled, a process that is not involved in recognition (Corballis, 1988).
Ø According to Smith and Vela (2001) in some retrieval conditions such as recognition tests the repeated presentation of the target is a very strong cue, and it overwhelms any aid to retrieval that might be rendered by contextual information. They predicted that environmental context have more effect in free recall than in cued recall, and even less effect in recognition (Barak, Vakil and Levil, 2013).
Ø Smith’s (1988) ‘outshining’ hypothesis suggest that recognition items act as such a strong retrieval cues that they overshadow the weak contribution of environmental context cues (Grant et al. 1998)

Aims of Study

This study looks if 2 different environmental contexts while learning 2 different lists of words can have an effect on recall.
Participants were divided in 2 groups and had to wear headphones while learning list of words

Group1 Group2
(Noisy canteen (Silent background) background) Method

Ø Participants – 40 participants, 20 males and 20 females, ranging in age from 18 – 59 took part in the study, mean age 28.7. 2 experimenters take part to test participants.
Ø Design – Learning context (noisy vs. silent) and test context (noisy vs. silent) were manipulated in 2 x 2 repeated measure design, making 4 conditions. Participants received a different word list for each condition.
Ø Stimuli – Each participant provided with headphones and audio recorder. Half of recorders contain the sound of busy university