Cognition Laboratory Experiments

John H. Krantz, Hanover College,






Mental Imagery


Decision Making


Statistical Concepts

Hanover College
Psychology Department

Instructions for the
Serial Position Experiment

In this experiment, you can experience one results from the study of memory, the serial position effect.  It has often been found that in recalling a list of items, there is better recall for words from the beginning of the list than those items in the middle of the list, the primacy effect.  If the recall is immediate, there is also better recall for items at the end of the list, the recency effect.  This experiment should help illustrate this result.   When you click on the link below, you will be presented with the experiment setup screen.  On this screen will be the variables you can set to define your condition.  Here is a list of the variables and their settings

Variable Settings
Stimulus Type One of four types of stimuli can be used currently (long words-7-10 letters, short words-3-4 letters, two digit numbers, 4 digit numbers)
Number of times list is repeated Each conditions will be repeated this number of times in a row.
Number of items in list The number of items to be remembered.  From 2 to 9.
Duration of each item The time duration which a word/math problem set are presented (1 to 30 seconds)
Time before recognition Delay between the end of the list and the beginning of the recognition test (0 to 1800)
Time for Recognition Time for the recognition task (5 to 120 seconds)
Font Size The size of the letters that are presented (from 12 to 64 point)
Duration of Fixation Target before Block The time there is a fixation marker over the location of the mathematical problem at the beginning of each block (0 to 20 sec)
Word Position Adjust the relative height and horizontal postion of the word.

After you have finished making your settings, press the Done button at the bottom of the screen.  The serial position experiment screen will then be presented.  A start bar will be at the top of the screen at every trial and instructions will be in the center of the screen. 

Press the space bar to begin the experiment.  The words will then be displayed one at a time in the position you have selected.  At the end of the list and after the set delay, the words presented with an equal number of distracters will be presented at the top of the screen in buttons.  Click on the buttons of the words you recognize.  When you click the word will fade.  You will only be allowed to click on the number of buttons equaling the number of words in the list.

At the end of the experiment your results will be presented.  For each condition you run, you will be given the type of words presented, the overall accuracy for remembering those words and also the proportion of words recalled for each position in the list.  You should recall more items at the beginning of the list.  If you do immediate recall you should also recall the last items more than the items in middle of the list. This is a draft experiment so expect modifications, but they will be coming slowly.s

Click here to start the experiment.