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Recall mode and recency in immediate serial recall: Computer users beware!


Two experiments were carried out in which subjects were tested on immediate serial recall of digit lists. In both experiments, some subjects wrote their responses on paper, and other subjects entered their responses by means of a computer keyboard. In both experiments, keyboard entry of responses resulted in lower recall of items from the recency part of the serial-position curve, and in the second experiment, the difference between the two response modes was greater when lists had been presented visually rather than auditorily. The auditory suffix effect was not diminished by keyboard entry of responses. Investigators of recency effects in serial recall are cautioned about using keyboard entry of responses.


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The research reported here was supported by Grant A9587 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to the first author and an NSERC summer award to the second author. We would like to thank A. Kerry Butt for his assistance with computer programming.

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Penney, C.G., Blackwood, P.A. Recall mode and recency in immediate serial recall: Computer users beware!. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 27, 545–547 (1989).

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  • Serial Position
  • List Item
  • Serial Recall
  • Computer Keyboard
  • List Modality