Long-term retention for intentionally and incidentally learned words

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This experiment compared the retention of words of high and low frequency by intentional and incidental learners. It also compared the word association of Int. and Inc. Ss with respect to conventionality, frequency of usage and trial-to-trial change. If the items learned by Int. and Inc. Ss are acquired through the mediation of the same types of differential response, the rate of forgetting should be equal under the two conditions if level of mastery was equal. Forgetting over 48 hours was the same for Int. and Inc. Ss. Number of overt errors was also the same in the two conditions of learning. Word frequency, however, was found to be positively related to the increase in overt errors over 48 hours. The majority of these errors came from the Ss' previous associations to the items. Conditions of learning did not interact with word frequency for either the recall or the error measures. The associations given by Int. Ss were less conventional and less common words than those of Inc. Ss, but only in the High-F condition. Apparently Int. Ss adopted a strategy of giving distinctive associations that could lead them back to the stimulus items. But those Int. Ss who gave the least conventional associations recalled the fewest words immediately after learning, which indicates that selecting distinctive associates was an unsuccessful strategy. No correlation was found between recall and associative conventionality for Inc. Ss, but there was a direct correlation between recall and associative change for these Ss. Correlations between association measures and recall dissipated after 48 hours. Positive correlations were found between number of association errors after 48 hours and associative conventionality for the High-F case, while negative correlations were found in the Low-F case. This was the only evidence of facilitation due to giving distinctive associations. © 1964 Academic Press Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior