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Narrative stories as mediators for serial learning


Subjects learned 12 serial lists of 10 nouns by one of two methods: a control method of normal study and rehearsal, or a narrative-chaining method, where S was instructed to construct a meaningful story woven around the words to be remembered. Each Narrative S was permitted as much time as he needed for constructing each story, typically taking 1–2 min. His yoked control mate was given the same amount of time to study each list. Recall of each list immediately after it was studied was perfect for all Ss. However, after the 12 lists had been studied, a probe test for longer-term recall of each list showed Narrative Ss recalling six-seven times as much as their yoked Controls. Average median recall was 93% vs 13% for the Narrative and Control Ss, respectively. The results appear to demonstrate the role of thematic organization in increasing learning, decreasing interlist interference, and guiding reconstructive recall.


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This research was supported by Grant MH-13950 to the first author from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Bower, G.H., Clark, M.C. Narrative stories as mediators for serial learning. Psychon Sci 14, 181–182 (1969).

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  • Critical Word
  • Serial Learning
  • Serial List
  • Narrative Story
  • Yoke Control