Output order in immediate serial recall

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Tan, L.H.T. ; Ward, G. (2007)

Two experiments examined the effect of output order in immediate serial recall (ISR). In Experiment 1, three groups of participants saw lists of 8 words and wrote down the words in the rows corresponding to their serial positions in an 8-row response grid. One group was pre-cued to respond in forwards order, a second group was pre-cued to respond in any order, and a third group was post-cued for response order. There were significant effects of output order but not of cue type. Relative to the forwards output order, the free output order led to enhanced recency and diminished primacy, with superior performance for words output early in recall. These results were replicated in Experiment 2 using 6-item lists, which further suggests that output order plays an important role in the primacy effect in ISR, and that the recency items are most highly accessible at recall.
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