Verbal Behavior and Learning: Problems and Processes: Proceedings

By Charles N. Cofer; Barbara S. Musgrave | Go to book overview
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individual items for active reproduction without support from reexposure to the original learning materials" (p. 217).Third, the X0 hypothesis could help explain why recognition is often much better than recall. To take a specific example, Hollingworth ( 1913) repeatedly presented a list of 50 adjectives with instructions to give the opposite adjective. Then, after 60 to 75 presentations, he tested for the retention of these pairs of adjectives, first by recall and then by recognition. The median recall was 27 out of 50, yet half the subjects were able to recognize all 50 when shown a total of 100 pairs of adjectives. Why was the difference so large? Simply because the subject would identify the pairs not on the list even though he could only produce slightly more than half the pairs himself.For such an explanation to be correct it is necessary that knowledge of list membership develop at a more rapid rate than recall. Indirect evidence is provided by studies of free recall ( Deese, 1959b; Murdock, 1960); the incidence of extra-list intrusions seems to be quite low even when recall is far from perfect. (Such intrusions apparently are a function of interitem associative strength; see Deese, 1959a). More direct evidence is provided in a study by Cofer ( 1961). In one variation of the experiment he read a list of 15 words once, had subjects match list length in free recall, then for each item recalled had the subject indicate whether he was sure the item had been on the list, was sure it had not been on the list, or was uncertain. Over-all, subjects were more than 80 per cent accurate in assessing list membership. For the lists of unrelated words the subjects were 97.5 per cent accurate when they checked a word recalled as having been on the list (personal communication). If subjects are this accurate with a list of 15 words presented once, it does not seem unreasonable to assume that they would have a fairly accurate idea of list membership of a list of 50 adjective pairs presented some 60 to 75 times.In conclusion, it is readily admitted that the X0 hypothesis is a rather simple and unsophisticated hypothesis about recognition as a method of measuring retention. Also, it is not in perfect accordance with all the facts. However, it does show how performance on a recognition test should vary as a function of the number of alternatives and the probability of eliminating distractors. There are undoubtedly other implications of the X0 hypothesis beyond those suggested in this paper; the quantitative formulation should be of benefit both in finding these implications and in testing them empirically.
REFERENCES
Binder A., & Feldman, S. E. ( 1960) The effects of experimentally controlled experience upon recognition responses. Psychol. Monogr., 74, No. 9, 1-43.

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