On the irrelevance of semantic information for the "irrelevant speech" effect
Examined whether semantic similarity between visually presented targets and auditorily presented distractors has an effect on serial recall of the visual targets in 2 experiments. In Exp 1, 78 Ss (aged 20-32 yrs) memorized sequences of 7 2-digit numbers either in silence or while ignoring (1) 2-digit numbers, (2) nonwords that were constructed from the phonemes of the numbers, or (3) word combinations with phonemes that were similar to those of the memorized digits. No difference was found in the recall of 2-digit numbers when distractors were either numbers or words and non-words that were designed to be phonologically similar to the targets. In Exp 2, 96 Ss (aged 19-31 yrs) were given a quiet control condition which was contrasted with 4 conditions in which only numbers were displayed as distractors. Results show that the semantic distance between targets and distractors had no effect on serial recall.
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