Serial-Positioning Effect Essay

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Everyone has experienced the phenomenon of recalling only a few items scribbled on a grocery list when the list itself isn’t present. According to the serial-position effect, you will most likely only remember the first few and the last few items on the list, rather than those in the middle. What is the reasoning for the lack of remembrance for the middle items? The primacy and recency theory, and Vargo’s theory are the two most likely explanations for the serial-position effect. In this essay, I will explain these theories and state my opinion on their accuracy. Primacy states that we tend to remember the first items on a list well because they have the best chance to consolidate in long term memory. Recency states that we remember the last items because they are still in short term memory. The primacy and recency theory explains that the middle items on the grocery list has not consolidated in long term memory and has left short term memory. Basically, we will most likely just forget the middle items because the first and last items are embedded in our long and short term memories already. Vargo’s theory argues that attention and motivation are the factors that determine whether or not we can recall items on the list. Generally, when we first began reading the list, our attention and motivation is high so we have effective encoding of the information we are reading. As we reach the middle items, our motivation and attention begin to decrease, which results ineffective encoding. At the end of our list, our attention and motivation begin to increase because we are about to finish reading the list. Both the primacy and recency theory and Vargo’s theory have valid points as to why we remember certain parts of lists. I think that short and long term memory have a lot to do with why we remember the first and last items on a list. It makes sense

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