On the Nature of Talker Variability Effects on Recall of Spoken Word Lists

Stephen D. Goldinger, David B. Pisoni, John S. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


In a recent study, Martin, Mullennix, Pisoni, and Summers (1989) reported that subjects' accuracy in recalling lists of spoken words was better for words in early list positions when the words were spoken by a single talker than when they were spoken by multiple talkers. The present study was conducted to examine the nature of these effects in further detail. Accuracy of serial-ordered recall was examined for lists of words spoken by either a single talker or by multiple talkers. Half the lists contained easily recognizable words, and half contained more difficult words, according to a combined metric of word frequency, lexical neighborhood density, and neighborhood frequency. Rate of presentation was manipulated to assess the effects of both variables on rehearsal and perceptual encoding. A strong interaction was obtained between talker variability and rate of presentation. Recall of multiple-talker lists was affected much more than single-talker lists by changes in presentation rate. At slow presentation rates, words in early serial positions produced by multiple talkers were actually recalled more accurately than words produced by a single talker. No interaction was observed for word confusability and rate of presentation. The data provide support for the proposal that talker variability affects the accuracy of recall of spoken words not only by increasing the processing demands for early perceptual encoding of the words, but also by affecting the efficiency of the rehearsal process itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'On the Nature of Talker Variability Effects on Recall of Spoken Word Lists'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this