IntroductionHumans are able to cognitively absorb and retain vast amounts of information. However, the amount of information that a person can recall is fairly limited. Based on the multi-store model of memory theorised by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968), most external information must be stored in short-term memory (STM) in order to be retained in long-term memory (LTM). Several studies indicate that humans generally remember the information received in the beginning and end of the information absorption process better than the information in-between. This is known as the serial position effect, or the primacy-recency effect. The primacy effect suggests that the earliest external information, such as the words at beginning of a list, is most effectively retained. While the recency effect suggests that the most recent information, such as the words at the end of a list, is most retained. A study by Murdock (1962) aimed to determine how the serial position curve varied with list length and presentation rate. Participants, divided into 4 groups, were asked to learn a list of words varying from 10-40 words, presented at a rate of 1-2 seconds. They were then asked to freely recall the words by writing them down within 1.5 minutes. Results indicated that the probability of recalling any word depended on its position in the list (serial position). Participants more frequently recalled the words presented early in the list or towards the end. This provides substantial support to the serial position effect, as most participants displayed either primacy or recency effect. Murdock concluded that the words early in the list were put into LTM, while words at the end went into STM which is typically able to retain 7 items; confirming that information is recalled from two separate stores.A study that further investigated the serial position effect was Terry (2005), aimed to investigate whether the position of a television commercial in a list determines how well it will be recalled. Participants watched 15 commercials in a laboratory simulation and were asked to recall the product names. The first test required the participants to recall names immediately after the commercials ended, while a second test required them to do so at the very end of the experiment. Results from the first test showed the primacy and recency effect, while results from the end-of-session test indicated the presence of the primacy effect but the disappearance of the recency effect. It can be inferred from these results that the commercials at the beginning of the list were stored in LTM (primacy effect), while the last commercials were stored in STM (recency effect); which resulted in the participants not being able to recall the last commercials as time passed due to the limited duration of information stored in STM. This study replicates the study done by Glanzer & Cunitz (1966), aimed to investigate how the position of words in a list affected free recall. In the original study, participants were shown a list of words; one group was asked to freely recall the words immediately after the presentation, while the other group recalled the words after a 30-second delay. The results displayed a U-shaped curve, showing the presence of the serial position effect. However, with the presence of the distraction task the primacy effect disappeared while the recency effect remained. This supports the existence of the serial position effect and the multi-store model of memory. For our experiment, participants were put through the same conditions, but with a modification of an increase in time of the distraction task to 60 seconds. Based on the experiments detailed above, the distraction task should limit the ability to recall.Aim: To investigate whether a longer delay, in addition to the position of words, would affect the ability of an individual’s recall.Hypothesis: An increase in the time of delay would decrease the number of words an individual is able to recall. Null hypothesis: An increase in time of delay would not influence the number of words an individual is able to recall.MethodDesignThe experiment design used was independent measures; as it provides a controlled investigation, allowing the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable to be effectively observed. Along with contrasting the recall of words in different parts of the list, thus indicating how strong the serial position effect is. Two groups were involved: control and experimental. The independent variable was the presence or absence of the distraction task, the 60-second game of charades; which was present only in the experimental group. The dependent variable was the number of words, thus the positions of those words, that the participants could recall. The controls were the way in which the words were presented through a slideshow, the 3-second rate at which each word was presented, the 2 minutes given to recall the words, and the environment where the study was conducted. Although the experiments took place on two different dates, they took place on the same time of day at 2:00 pm.Ethical considerations were followed throughout the experiment. Informed consent was given by all participants through signing the provided consent forms (appendix i). The safety, privacy, and anonymity of the participants was of utmost concern and all were notified of their right to withdraw at any point in the experiment. Following the experiment, all participants were debriefed in order for them to be informed of the theory behind the study and the aim and results. ParticipantsAn opportunity sample, a sample of whoever is available during the time of the study, of 20 participants was used. The participants were randomly allocated to either the experimental or control group, resulting in 10 participants per group. All participants were high school freshmen of an international school in Bangkok, with an age range between 14-15 years. 12 of the participants were female, 8 were male. None of the participants had ever taken psychology before, thus all were unbiased. These participants were selected due to them being the most readily available and how they had no prior knowledge, which would add to the accuracy of the data and reduce participant bias. MaterialsConsent forms (appendix i)Standardised instructions (appendix ii) Presentation containing words (appendix iv)Game of charades PensSheets of paperStopwatchProcedure Consent forms (appendix i) were collected and all 20 participants were randomly allocated into the control group or the experimental group, both containing 10 participants each. The experiment was conducted in groups of 5. The first group of 5 participants were received and shown to a room with a controlled environment and ensured silence. The participants were assigned seats and the preliminary instructions (appendix ii) were read out. The presentation containing the words (appendix iv) was then played, at a pace of 3 seconds per word. Following the presentation, the control group was told to immediately write the words they recalled onto the paper provided within a timespan of 2 minutes. The experimental group played a 60-second game of charades lead by the researchers, then wrote down the words they recalled onto the paper provided also within 2 minutes. The papers were collected after the 2 minutes passed, followed by the debriefing notes (appendix iii) being read. The same procedures were repeated for the remaining 15 participants.