Studies of the long-term recency effect: Support for a contextually guided retrieval hypothesis

Arthur M. Glenberg, Margaret M. Bradley, Thomas A. Kraus, Gary J. Renzaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


When the items on a to-be-remembered (TBR) list are separately processed, a (long-term) recency effect is observed even when recall is delayed by interpolated activity. Six experiments were conducted with 314 undergraduates to test this hypothesis. Two experiments demonstrated that the size of the effect is a logarithmic function of the ratio of the interitem interval to the retention interval, over a 2,000-fold range. The results of 3 experiments favored a theoretical account of the long-term recency effect based on using contextual cues to retrieve information over an account based on differential organization of TBR items and interpolated activity. Associated with the long-term recency effect was the finding that the level of recall of the last TBR item was directly related to the length of the preceding interitem interval. The results of another experiment favored an explanation of this finding based on the contextual-retrieval hypothesis over a competing rehearsal hypothesis. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-255
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • contextual-retrieval hypothesis, memory, college students
  • level-of-recall effects &
  • long term recency &
  • ratio &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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