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Robert Kachelski, Psychology


Previous research on the production effect shows that reading words aloud improves people’s memory for those words compared to words read silently. The purpose of our study was to extend this research to see if reading words aloud would improve people’s memory compared to hearing someone else say the words aloud. We also wanted to see if the production effect depends on the type of words (abstract or concrete words) and the type of memory test (recall or recognition). Participants were shown 30 words, one at a time, with each word presented for 4 seconds on a PowerPoint slide. Half of the words were abstract words (such as value and reason) and the other half were concrete words (such as table and paper). One group was instructed to read each word aloud as it appeared on the screen. A second group was instructed to read each word silently as it appeared. In the third group, as each word appeared on the screen, participants heard an audio recording of the word spoken aloud by one of the researchers. After all 30 words were presented, the participants were asked to recall the words by writing down as many as they could remember. Next, they completed a recognition memory test in which they were given a sheet containing the 30 presented words mixed together with 30 words that were not presented in the PowerPoint. They were asked to circle the words that they remembered being presented earlier. We then compared participants’ memory performance to see if there were any significant differences among the groups, and whether the differences depended on the type of words or the type of memory test used.

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