, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 197-209

Interitem encoding and directed search in free recall


The paper proposes a cognitive structure consistent with principles of encoding and a rule for its utilization in verbal recall. The encoding and utilization rules lead to phenomena similar to known serial position effects. A detailed analysis of overt rehearsal data and other experimental results are presented in support of the claim that encoding and search mechanisms characterized by these rules could be important factors in serial position effects of verbal recall. Similar rules might be helpful in dealing with other tasks which seem to mirror the utilization of a cognitive structure.

Based on part of a doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of Colorado. The dissertation was supported by an NSF predoctoral fellowship and by NIMH Grant MH-15872 to W. Kintsch, while the present paper was written during the author’s tenure as postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University, supported by PHS Grants GM 01789 and GM 16735. I received the encouragement and advice of Walter Kintsch, thesis advisor. The paper has also benefited from suggestions and criticism by Edward J. Crothers, W.K. Estes, Rachel J. Falmagne, Mary M. Hogan, and Dirk Vorberg. Clarity of exposition was improved on the basis of comments by two unknown reviewers. An abbreviated version of this paper was presented at the Mathematical Psychology meetings, Montreal, August 1973.