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Mem Cognit. 1976 Sep;4(5):507-13. doi: 10.3758/BF03213211.

Differences in encoding for free recall vs. recognition.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 60201, Evanston, Illinois.


Three experiments examined effects of test expectancy on memory for relatively unrelated words. In Experiment I, where preliminary recall or recognition practice was given, both recall and recognition were superior when the subjects expected and had practiced for recall. Free study led to better recall and recognition than paced presentation, but did not interact with test expectancy. Experiment II demonstrated that recall was better for subjects expecting a recall vs. a recognition test in the absence of preliminary practice. In Experiment III all subjects practiced both recall and recognition prior to presentation of the critical list. Study time also was varied. With longer study, recall was better when a recall test was expected, with no test expectancy effect on recognition. There were no appreciable expectancy effects with the short study period. Self-reports and other data suggested that the critical encoding differences produced by test expectancy manipulation were quantitative in nature.

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