My Psychology Notes: Primacy and Recency effect of Memory

I have been interested in observing human being for long time. Incidentally I started my self-study of psychology in my gap year since last winter. Psychology is a subject about studying cognition, emotion and behavior of human being. Categories of psychology include developmental psychology, personality, psychopathology, social psychology and cognitive psychology. Psychology also covers animals in Comparative psychology and ethology.

Memory is one of the topics I am interested in. Generally I think I have good memory in daily life. I can recognize faces easily. I can recall details from the books and other stuffs I have read before. I also have good biographical memory. But ironically I don’t have a good music memory. So I feel headache each time when I need to perform with memory.

Memory is a key topic in cognitive psychology. What I am impressed is the concept about how the serial-position playing roles in our memory. The psychologists find that we tend to recall the first and last items in a series best, while the middle part worst. They name this tendency as “Serial Position Effect”. Furthermore, researches reveal that we recall last items of a series better just after the presentation as these items are still in our short term memory (recency effect). On the other hand we need more rehearsal to memorize the beginning items in order to convert them into our long term memory (primacy effect).

These findings give inspirations on how we can assist  music memorization, especially when I train my students to prepare for the aural test. In the aural test students are asked to sing back a short musical phrase played by the examiner.  My advice is to sing the phrase as soon as possible. When we wait we may forget the phrase easily. My another advice is that as the phrase is being played only twice in the aural test, in the first playing we may capture the general flow of the phrase and pay attention to those near the end of the phrase . Then in the second playing we can focus more on the beginning part of the phrase.

Copyright © 2015 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved

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