Human order memory: insights from the relative-order task

  • Author / Creator
  • In our daily activities, whether it is to remember a phone number, a recipe or a movie plot, remembering order information is crucial. The most common way to study order memory is serial recall, where participants are asked to recall a study list in the order that the list was presented. An alternative approach is the relative order task, where participants are given two items from a study list and asked to judge which one came earlier or later. In judgements of temporal order in short lists, a congruity effect is found: asking ``which item came earlier'' versus ``which item came later'' reverses search direction. The finding of a congruity effect in short lists led to a series of questions of whether the same congruity effect could be generalized to list of different types and whether behaviour data from relative order judgements could be accounted for by memory theories developed to explain serial-recall data. In this dissertation I report results from a series of studies focusing on the congruity effect beyond short lists and the response time measure, and relating theories of serial recall to theories of comparative judgements. Specifically, those studies report that the congruity effect generalizes to longer lists, the English Alphabet, and grouped lists, as well as the error rate measure. The generality of the congruity effect suggests current versions of order memory models need further assumptions to account for this effect. In addition,we report that grouping effects on relative order judgements are compatible with a positional coding model with two-level hierarchies. The comparison to the effects of grouping on serial recall suggests how relative order judgements and serial recall may share the same cognitive mechanisms. Together, these behavioural results further establish the generality of the congruity effect, bridge order memory theories based on relative order judgement and serial recall data, and set new constraints on future memory model development.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Caplan,Jeremy (Psychology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Rice,Sally (Linguistics)
    • Caplan,Jeremy (Psychology)
    • Brown,Norman (Psychology)
    • Bodner,Glen (Psychology)
    • Mou,Weimin (Psychology)