The effects of cued orienting tasks on the free recall of words

Robert E. Till, James J. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Amount and organization of recall of word lists was shown to depend on the nature of the orienting tasks performed by subjects even when the task varied from word to word within a single list. Subjects heard a cue letter after each word designating the appropriate task to be performed. Experiment I used a list of unrelated words. Words to which subjects applied a semantic task (pleasantness rating) were more often recalled than words to which nonsemantic tasks were applied (estimation of number of letters or occurrences of the letter "e"). No significant difference in recall was observed between groups prewarned about the recall test and those groups not warned. Recalled words did not cluster significantly with respect to task. Experiment II presented a randomized list of high-strength associative pairs. One group of subjects performed the same task for both members of an associative pair; the other group used pair members in different tasks. The semantic task again led to greater recall than nonsemantic tasks. Associative clustering in the same-task condition was greater than in the different-tasks condition. Both meaningfulness of task and task similarity contribute to clustering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-498
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1973

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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