Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Effect of Imagery Instruction on Memory

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Effect of Imagery Instruction on Memory

Article excerpt

For centuries, different methods have been used in an attempt to enhance memory (Yates, 1966). Techniques such as visual aids, mnemonic devices, and visualization methods have been thought to facilitate memory. One proposed approach to aid memory is the bizarreness effect (Andreoff & Yarmey, 1976; Fritsch & Larsen, 1990; Wollen, Weber, & Lowry, 1972). This method involves the use of unusual visual imagery to encode information. Over the years, researchers have tried to support this approach with various studies involving different methods of incorporating bizarre imagery.

In order to determine the effectiveness of bizarreness on memory, many different procedures have been used. Some experiments manipulated how sentences embedded with words in either a common or bizarre way are presented (Macklin & McDaniel, 2005; McDaniel, Einstein, DeLosh, May, & Brady, 1995; Toyota, 2002). Others used the presentation of pictures considered to be bizarre or common (Wollen et al., 1972). Another way of examining the bizarreness effect is to use word-pair associations. Results using these different procedures for examining the effect of bizarre stimuli have been inconsistent (Einstein & McDaniel, 1987). Some researchers have found bizarreness to have a positive effect on memory (Andreoff & Yarmey, 1976; Merry, 1980; Pra Baldi, de Beni, Cornoldi, & Cavedon, 1985), while others have concluded that it has no important significant effect (Fritsch & Larsen, 1990).

One aspect of such research focuses on whether the images formed are vivid and interacting. Wollen et al., (1972) stated that bizarreness may not have been correctly manipulated in previous research because of the difficulty creating common or bizarre images from word-pairs. They attempted to independently look at bizarreness and interactivity by using pictures in four different categories. Participants were randomly placed into one of four different categories: interacting and bizarre, non-interacting and bizarre, interacting and common, and non-interacting and common. Interacting images were either in a spatial relationship or active relationship with each other; non-interacting images were simply viewed side by side. Bizarre images were depicted to have an unusual relationship (interacting) or were distorted (non-interacting). Each picture pair was accompanied by the corresponding word pair. Wollen et al. concluded that recall is greatly enhanced only when pictures are interacting.

Several other experiments support the idea that interacting pictures are important. Fritsch and Larsen (1990) suggested that participants, on average, formed more interacting images than non-interacting ones when asked to form mental images. Not only does research support the notion that interacting images are used more and enhance recall, but that the vividness of a picture is also related. Vividness and interactivity usually go hand-in-hand. When a picture is created, it is usually interactive and vivid simultaneously.

In relation to bizarreness, the more interacting and vivid a bizarre picture is, the more likely it will be recalled. Campos, Perez, and Gonzalez (1997) conducted an experiment examining the effects of imagery type, vividness, and interactivity of the image on recall. Participants were given a list of word-pairs and told to form a mental image in either a bizarre or common interacting way. Following this, participants rated the images they created on three aspects: vividness of the image, interactivity of the image, and bizarreness of the image. Results of the study concluded that images considered to be bizarre were significantly more interactive and vivid than images considered to be common. Also, in a study by Andreoff and Yarmey (1976) which compared instruction format and time, the researchers determined that bizarreness had a positive impact on recall. Campos, Perez-Fabello, and Gomez-Juncal (2006) also found that bizarre images are usually more interactive than common images. …

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