Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Production Effect in Paired-Associate Learning: Benefits for Item and Associative Information

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Production Effect in Paired-Associate Learning: Benefits for Item and Associative Information

Article excerpt

Published online: 24 October 2013

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Abstract In five experiments, we extended the production effect-better memory for items said aloud than for items read silently-to paired-associate learning, the goal being to explore whether production enhances associative information in addition to enhancing item information. In Experiments 1 and 2, we used a semantic-relatedness task in addition to the production manipulation and found no evidence of a production effect, whether the measure was cued recall or item recognition. Experiment 3 showed that the semantic-relatedness task had overshadowed the production effect; the effect was present when the semantic-relatedness task was removed, again whether cued recall or item recognition was the measure. Experiments 4 and 5 provided further evidence that production can enhance recall for word pairs and, using an associate recognition test with intact versus rearranged pairs, indicated that production may also enhance associative information. That production boosts memory for both types of information is considered in terms of distinctive encoding.

Keywords Memory . Recall . Recognition . Production

The production effect is the finding that saying a word aloud enhances memory as compared to reading a word silently (MacLeod, Gopie, Hourihan, Neary, & Ozbuko, 2010). Although evidence of this effect appeared decades ago (Conway & Gathercole, 1987; Gathercole & Conway, 1988; Hopkins & Edwards, 1972), the phenomenon remained relatively unknown until 2010, when MacLeod and his colleagues (MacLeod et al., 2010) named the effect and brought it to wider attention. In a series of studies (Forrin, Jonker, & MacLeod, in press; Forrin, MacLeod, & Ozubko, 2012; Hourihan & MacLeod, 2008; Lin & MacLeod, 2012; MacLeod, 2011; Ozubko, Gopie, & MacLeod, 2011; Ozubko, Hourihan, & MacLeod, 2012; Ozubko & MacLeod, 2010; Ozubko, Major, &MacLeod, in press), they have suggested that various forms of production (such as speaking and writing) enhance future recall and recognition by creating a more distinctive encoding.

In the standard production effect experiment, subjects are asked to study a word list for an upcoming memory test by reading half of the words silently and the other half aloud. On a subsequent memory test, items that were read aloud (i.e., produced) typically show an advantage of 10 %-20 % over items that were read silently, whether the test is recognition (e.g., MacLeod et al., 2010) or recall (e.g., Lin & MacLeod, 2012). Variations have supported the robust nature of the effect and indicated that mouthing, writing, whispering, typing, and spelling also enhance memory, although typically not to the same degree as reading aloud (Castel, Rhodes, & Friedman, 2013; Conway & Gathercole, 1987; Forrin et al., 2012; Gathercole & Conway, 1988; MacLeod et al., 2010).

Certain boundary conditions do exist for the production effect, however. For example, the production task must require subjects to produce a unique response for each item; that is, saying "yes" in lieu of actually producing does not enhance future performance (MacLeod et al., 2010, Exp.4) although, interestingly, subjects think that it will (Castel et al., 2013). Critically, the production effect is largely limited to withinsubjects designs in which the spoken items are intermixed with the silent items (e.g., Hopkins&Edwards, 1972; Jones& Pyc, in press, MacLeod et al., 2010), although meta-analysis has suggested that a small effect may occur in betweensubjects designs, as well (Fawcett, 2013).

This pattern of results has led several researchers (Conway & Gathercole, 1987; Ozubko & MacLeod, 2010) to suggest that producing a word does not enhance the overall strength of the word, but rather adds a distinctive "I said it aloud" record, relative to silent reading (Hunt, 2006, 2013; see also Ozubko et al. …

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