The impact of interstimulus interval and background silence on recall

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26 Scopus citations


Three experiments investigate how the interval between target items of information in an audio context influences recall under background conditions of music and silence. In experiment 1, when a goal-directed learning task encouraged allocation of resources to the message, recall increased linearly for both background conditions as the interval increased. However, under the incidental learning task used in experiment 2, increasing the interval from two to three seconds had a deleterious impact on recall, but only in the background silence condition. Experiment 3 suggested that this was due to a surplus of cognitive resources in the background silence condition producing interfering extracommunication thought. Results also support the theory presented that background music borrows resources from the processing of message information in an incidental learning task. Although music impairs processing of brand information and reduces recall at shorter intervals, relative to silence, it increases the interval preceding the onset of excess resources, delaying interfering thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-303
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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