Parametric effects of word frequency in memory for mixed frequency lists

Lynn J. Lohnas, Michael J. Kahana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The word frequency paradox refers to the finding that low frequency words are better recognized than high frequency words yet high frequency words are better recalled than low frequency words. Rather than comparing separate groups of low and high frequency words, we sought to quantify the functional relation between word frequency and memory performance across the broad range of frequencies typically used in episodic memory experiments. Here we report that both low frequency and high frequency words are better recalled than midfrequency words. In contrast, we only observe a low frequency advantage when participants were given a subsequent item recognition test. The U-shaped relation between word frequency and recall probability may help to explain inconsistent results in studies using mixed lists with separate groups of high and low frequency words.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1943-1946
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • Recall
  • Recognition
  • Word frequency effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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