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Psychology Essay

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The effect of organisation of visual material on subsequent recall


Fifteen participants were tested in a repeated measures experiment. They were shown two sheets of visual images, one of which was organised into categories, while the other one was uncategorised. Recall was significantly higher in the categorised condition. This supports the view that organised materials can provides cues, even when they do not appear obvious. The study suggests that cues are also available for visual material, not just verbal material.


Memory is a very complex and interesting area of psychology. It can take several different forms and is ...view middle of the document...

Bower, Clark, Lesgold & Winzenz (1969, cited in Gross, 1996) carried out a word-remembering task, where an experimental group were presented with 28 words organised in hierarchical form, while the control group were given 28 randomly-organised words. Out of a total of 112 words presented, the experimental group were able to recall a mean of 73 words, while the control group could only recall a mean of 21 words. Therefore, the organisation of objects can facilitate the retaining of them.
The organisation of different materials within memory is key in avoiding forgetting from long-term memory storage. This is where the theory of cue-dependent memory comes from. Tulving and Pearlstone (1966) studied the effect of category cues in a classic study in which the participants had to learn lists of words, organised into categories with their category names provided. Participants were given lists of 12, 24 or 48 words, which contained one, two or four examples of categories, as well as the category name. However, they were only asked to remember the exemplars. Only half were given the category names as a cue; the others could only free-recall by writing the words on a sheet of paper. The group given the category names were able to recall far more words than the other group. When the group who previously were not given the category names were given them later, their recall improved as well. Therefore, available material can be made more accessible by providing cues.
It is debateable whether materials which have been organised into categories, but without category names provided, can be better recalled than uncategorised materials. The current study is similar to Tulving and Pearlstone’s, except that it presented participants with items to be recalled which had been categorised but without category names provided. It also presented uncategorised materials. In addition, the items in the current study were visual images, rather than words, to see whether cue dependent effects could be found with visual, rather than verbal material. The present study investigated whether organised material is able to provide its own cues, which can aid in the recall process, and whether the same effect occurs with visual material. If this hypothesis is supported, a higher number of items would be expected to be recalled correctly in the organised materials condition.


A repeated measures experiment was conducted. The independent variable in the study was the level of organisation (whether images shown were organised into categories or were disorganised) and the dependent variable was the number of images recalled. A standardised procedure and instructions were employed. The two conditions were counter-balanced to avoid order effects.

Fifteen participants took part in the study. They comprised six men and nine women whose ages ranged from 16 to 55+, although the majority were in the 16-24 age range. The participants were a...

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