The serial position curve is used to plot the results of a free recall experiment. The x-axis of this curve indicates the serial position of to-be-remembered items in the list (e.g., the first item, the second item, the third item, and so on). The y-axis of this curve indicates the probability of recall for the item, which is typically obtained by averaging across a number of subjects
The serial position curve is important to cognitive science because it revealed two effects, the recency effect and the primacy effect, which were fundamentally important pieces of evidence for the functional decomposition of "memory" into an organized set of subsystems.
Free Recall | Primacy Effect | Recency Effect
Contributed by M.R.W. Dawson, October 12, 1995
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