The Effect of Word Length on Immediate Serial Recall Depends on Phonological Complexity, Not Articulatory Duration

  title={The Effect of Word Length on Immediate Serial Recall Depends on Phonological Complexity, Not Articulatory Duration},
  author={Elisabet Service},
  journal={Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology},
  pages={283 - 304}
  • E. Service
  • Published 1998
  • Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Immediate recall for sequences of short words is better than for sequences of long words. This word-length effect has been thought to depend on the spoken duration of the words (Baddeley, Thomson, & Buchanan, 1975) or their phonological complexity (Caplan, Rochon, & Waters, 1992). In Finnish both vowel and consonant quantity distinguish between words. Long phonemes behave like phoneme repetitions. In Experiment 1, subjects were presented with auditory lists of three kinds of pseudowords based… Expand

Figures from this paper

Strong and long: Effects of word length on phonological binding in verbal short-term memory
An interactive view of short-term memory is supported, in which long words derive greater benefits from lexical knowledge than short words—especially when their phonological integrity is challenged by the inclusion of nonwords in mixed lists. Expand
The Word-length Effect and Disyllabic Words
It is suggested that there is no reliable advantage for short-duration disyllable words in span tasks, and that previous accounts of a word-length effect in disyllables are based on accidental differences between list items. Expand
The effect of morphological complexity on short-term memory capacity
Results indicated that morphological complexity had a significant negative effect on short- term memory span, and that memory was better for derived words than inflected words, and regular than irregular words. Expand
Is There a Temporal Basis of the Word Length Effect? A Response to Service (1998)
It is concluded that both duration and complexity are likely to contribute to the word length effect in serial recall. Expand
The time-based word length effect and stimulus set specificity
It is argued that the time-based word length effect is not robust and as such poses problems for models based on the phonological loop. Expand
Phonological Complexity and Word Duration in Immediate Recall: Different Paradigms Answer Different Questions. A Comment on Cowan, Nugent, Elliott, and Geer
Cowan, Nugent, Elliott, and Geer (this issue) respond to an article (Service, 1998) in which I reported three experiments on Finnish-sounding pseudowords that explored separately the effect of wordExpand
Word Length, Set Size, and Lexical Factors: Re-Examining What Causes the Word Length Effect
It is concluded that lexical factors, rather than word length per se, are better predictors of when the word length effect will occur. Expand
Retroactive interference in short-term memory and the word-length effect.
  • G. Campoy
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Acta psychologica
  • 2011
This study shows that long words produce more retroactive interference than short words, supporting an interference-based account for the word-length effect. Expand
Investigating the phonological similarity effect: implications for short-term memory models
The findings are consistent with psycholinguistic models of STM that assume that the effect that phonemic similarity has on order memory is a consequence of linguistic constraints, such as sonority, that operate at the sub-syllabic as compared to lexical level. Expand
Semantic and phonological contributions to short-term repetition and long-term cued sentence recall
A novel cued sentence recall paradigm is developed to assess the effects of two factors on sentence recall accuracy at short-term and long-term stages, and provides a basis for using sentence imageability and subsequent memory performance as probes of semantic engagement in short- term memory for sentences. Expand


Articulatory and Phonological Determinants of Word Length Effects in Span Tasks
  • D. Caplan, E. Rochon, G. Waters
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • The Quarterly journal of experimental psychology. A, Human experimental psychology
  • 1992
The results indicate that it is the phonological structure of a word and not features of its actual articulation that determines the magnitude of the word length effect in span tasks. Expand
There Are Two Word-Length Effects in Verbal Short-Term Memory: Opposed Effects of Duration and Complexity
In the word-length effect (WLE), lists of shorter words are better recalled than lists of longer words This effect is fundamental to decay-based theories of verbal short-term memory, such as theExpand
Word length and the structure of short-term memory
A number of experiments explored the hypothesis that immediate memory span is not constant, but varies with the length of the words to be recalled. Results showed: (1) Memory span is inverselyExpand
The Effects of Word Length and Phonemic Similarity in Young Children's Short-term Memory
Two experiments tested the hypothesis that word length and phonemic similarity effects in young children's recall with auditory presentation result from verbal output, and not: (1) rehearsal in theExpand
The influences of number of syllables and wordlikeness on children’s repetition of nonwords
It has recently been suggested that the developmental association between nonword repetition performance and vocabulary knowledge reflects the contribution of phonological memory processes toExpand
The role of verbal output time in the effects of word length on immediate memory.
In three experiments, we examined the role of delays within overt verbal responding in causing effects of word length on immediate recall. Although a phonological memory decay mechanism has beenExpand
Reversing the Word-Length Effect: A Comment on Caplan, Rochon, and Waters
Caplan, Rochon, and Waters (1992) report a failure to observe the poorer immediate serial recall for words of longer spoken duration obtained by Baddeley, Thomson, and Buchanan (1975) andExpand
The Word-Length Effect in Probed and Serial Recall
The word-length effect in immediate serial recall has been explained as the possible consequence of rehearsal processes or of output processes. In the first experiment adult subjects heard lists ofExpand
Is nonword repetition a test of phonological memory or long-term knowledge? It all depends on the nonwords
It is argued that these findings indicate that nonword repetition for unwordlike stimuli is largely dependent on phonological memory, whereas repetition for wordlike items is also mediated by long-term lexical knowledge and is therefore less sensitive to phonologicalMemory constraints. Expand
Memory for familiar and unfamiliar words: Evidence for a long-term memory contribution to short-term memory span
Abstract Two experiments are described which demonstrate a long-term memory contribution to memory span. In the first experiment nonwords were used because they lack a long-term memoryExpand