Influences of retrieval processes on the spacing effect in free recall

Arthur M. Glenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Tested a 2-process theory of the spacing effect in free recall in 4 experiments with a total of 216 college students and paid Ss. The 1st process, differential organization, produces a positive correlation between the spacing of the presentations of repeated words and the number of different retrieval routes that can provide access to the words. The retrieval process interacts with the differential organization to control performance. If the cues used to retrieve the words provide approximately equal access to all retrieval routes, then the function relating spacing to recall will increase monotonically. If only selected retrieval routes are used, then the spacing function will be nonmonotonic. Results supporting this theory are that (a) the monotonic spacing function was most robust when Ss studied the list using an organizational strategy, (b) cuing and directing retrieval with input words resulted in a nonmonotonic effect of spacing when Ss had used an organizational strategy, and (c) directing retrieval by instructions about the order of recall resulted in a nonmonotonic effect of spacing. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-294
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1977
Externally publishedYes


  • multiple vs selected retrieval processes, spacing effect in free recall, college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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