Effect of list length predictability on the suffix effect: A reconsideration of two-component theory
Bloom, Lance Christopher
Watkins, Michael J.
Master of Arts
The suffix effect refers to the forgetting of the last few items of a just-spoken list caused by appending a nominally irrelevant item. Several theorists hold that rememberer strategy affects only the preterminal component of the suffix effect and on this basis they have advocated a two-component theory of the effect. This theory has received significant support from the finding that rendering list length unpredictable eliminates the preterminal component while having little if any effect on the terminal component. Contrary evidence is reported here. Specifically, a robust preterminal suffix effect is demonstrated in each of three experiments regardless of list length predictability. The discrepancy with the earlier finding might be due, in part at least, to a confound in the earlier research between knowledge of list length during presentation and knowledge of list length during recall. Other evidence taken as supporting two-component theory is reviewed and similarly found wanting.
Experimental psychology; Cognitive psychology