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Mem Cognit. 2005 Jul;33(5):833-9.

A comparative analysis of serial and free recall.

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Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.


Multitrial free and serial recall tasks differ both in recall instruction and in presentation order across trials. Waugh (1961) compared these paradigms with an intermediate condition: free recall with constant presentation order. She concluded that differences between free and serial recall were due only to recall instructions, and not to presentation order. The present study reevaluated the relation between free and serial recall, using Waugh's three conditions. By examining recall transitions and the organization of information retained across trials, we conclude that presentation order is an important factor, causing participants to exhibit the same temporal associations in serial recall and in free recall with constant presentation order.

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