Imagery and memory : the bizarreness issue reexamined
Kennedy, Pamela Ann
Burnett, Sarah A.
Master of Arts
This research examined the effects of the bizarreness attribute of imagery on memory. While previous research has not generally supported the facilitory effects of bizarreness on recall performance, there are a number of conceptual and methodological problems with this body of research. The present research attempted to overcome these problems by developing a more rigorous conceptualization and operationalization of the construct of bizarreness, and utilizing a design which controls for past methodological contaminants. Half of the 64 subjects were instructed to form images while the other half rehearsed phrases in rote fashion. Within each of these conditions, half of the subjects were tested by free recall and half by frequency estimation. For all subjects, half of the phrases were bizarre and half were common, as defined by pre-ratings made by independent subjects. Frequency level of phrase presentation was varied, with frequency levels 1, 2, 4 and 6 being represented. Finally, subjects were tested immediately after list presentation and again after one week. The results indicated that for cued recall, bizarre phrases were superior to common phrases. In addition, the superiority of bizarre over common imagery increased between the immediate and delayed tests. For frequency estimation, the data did not reveal any readily interpretable differences between common and bizarre phrases. The results were discussed as they relate to previous research on bizarreness. It was concluded that bizarreness does have a facilitory effect in imagery mediation. Suggestions for future research to further clarify the effects of bizarreness were presented.