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Title: A semantic contribution to verbal short-term memory : a test of operational definitions of 'semantic similarity' and input versus output processes
Author: Hunt, Frances Jane
ISNI:       0000 0001 3584 5159
Awarding Body: University of Greenwich
Current Institution: University of Greenwich
Date of Award: 2007
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Baddeley and Hitch (1974; Baddeley, 1986, 2000) propose that coding in verbal short-term memory is phonological and that semantic codes are employed in long-term memory. Semantic coding in short-term memory has been investigated to a far lesser degree than phonological codes and the findings have been inconsistent. Some theorists propose that semantic coding is possible (e.g. Nairne, 1990) while other suggest that semantic factors act during recall (e.g. Saint-Aubin & Poirer, 1999a). The following body of work investigates whether semantic coding is possible in short-term memory and examines what constitutes ‘semantic similarity’. Chapter 2 reports two visually presented serial recall experiments comparing semantically similar and dissimilar lists. This revealed that context greatly influences the recall of homophones. Chapter 3 illustrated that category members and synonyms enhanced item recall. However, categories had little impact on order retention, whereas synonyms had a detrimental effect. Chapter 4 employed a matching-span task which is purported to differentiate between input and output processes. It was found that synonyms had a detrimental effect on recall, indicative of the effect being related to input processes. Chapter 5 employed mixed lists using backward and forward recall. It was found that the important factor was that the semantically similar items should be encountered first in order to maximise their impact. This supported the contention of the importance of input factors. Chapter 6 compared phonologically and semantically similar items using an open and a closed word pool. It was found that semantic and phonological similarity has comparable effects when an open word pool and free recall scoring method are employed. Overall, the results were consistent with the idea that phonological and semantic codes can be employed in short-term recall.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics