The production effect in long-list recall: In no particular order?

Angela M. Lambert, Glen Bodner, Alexander Taikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The production effect reflects a memory advantage for words read aloud versus silently. We investigated how production influences free recall of a single long list of words. In each of 4 experiments, a production effect occurred in a mixed-list group but not across pure-list groups. When compared to the pure-list groups, the mixed-list effects typically reflected a cost to silent words rather than a benefit to aloud words. This cost persisted when participants had to perform a generation or imagery task for the silent items, ruling out a lazy reading explanation. This recall pattern challenges both distinctiveness and strength accounts, but is consistent with an item-order account. By this account, the aloud words in a mixed list disrupt the encoding of item-order information for the silent words, thus impairing silent word recall. However, item-order measures and a forced-choice order test did not provide much evidence that recall was guided by retrieval of item-order information. We discuss our pattern of results in light of another recent study of the effects of production on long-list recall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology-Revue Canadienne de Psychologie Experimentale
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • distinctiveness
  • item-order account
  • mixed versus pure lists
  • production effect
  • recall


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