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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2004 Jan;30(1):98-106.

Abolishing the word-length effect.

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Department of Psychology, University of York, York, United Kingdom.


The authors report 2 experiments that compare the recall of long and short words in pure and mixed lists. In pure lists, long words were much more poorly remembered than short words. In mixed lists, this word-length effect was abolished and both the long and short words were recalled as well as short words in pure lists. These findings contradict current models that seek to explain the word-length effect in terms of item-based effects such as difficulty in assembling items, or in terms of list-based accounts of rehearsal speed. An alternative explanation, drawing on ideas of item complexity and item distinctiveness, is proposed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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