This article applies to:
Experiment Author: Bransford, J.D. and Franks, J.J.Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
Participants receive a set of short sentences that express simple concepts. They are asked to identify which of the sentences they recognize. They identify the long sentences composed of the short sentences they had seen more readily than the short sentences themselves. This suggests that participants automatically integrate concepts they see into schemas that integrate the concepts.
Participants encounter two blocks of trials, the first is a list of 24 sentences. Each sentence appears for one second then five colors flash on the screen for 1 second each. A dialog box appears immediately after the five colors and asks a simple question about the sentence.
The second block of trials has participants recall if a given sentence was used in the previous section. A sentence is presented from a list of 35 randomly selected samples. Participants are asked if the sentence was present and will respond 'yes' or 'no' with a keyboard input. After each prompt, participants are asked to measure their confidence in their answer on a scale of 1-5, using a keyboard to respond.
Experiment Abstract or Original Experiment Abstract
The phenomenon of "idea acquisition and retention" is demonstrated experimentally and contrasted with an "individual sentence memory" point of view. Results indicate that during an acquisition phase of the experiments, Ss spontaneously integrate the information expressed by a number of non-consecutively experienced (but semantically related) sentences into wholistic, semantic ideas, where these ideas encompass more information than any acquisition sentence contained. Ss' subsequent attempts to recognize those exact sentences heard during acquisition are shown to be a function of the complete ideas acquired. Thus, Ss are most confident of "recognizing" sentences expressing all the semantic relations characteristic of a complete idea, in spite of the fact that such sentences expressed more information than was communicated by any single sentence on the acquisition list. Ss become less confident of having heard particular sentences as a function of the degree to which a sentence fails to exhaust all the semantic relations characteristic of a complete idea.
Bransford, J.D. and Franks, J.J., The Abstraction of Linguistic Ideas. Cognitive Psychology 2, 331-350 (1971).
Works Cited by the Experiment
Bartlett, F. C. Remembering. Cambridge: Cambridge. Univ. Press, 1932.
Curnow, P. F. Integration of linguistic materials. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1969.
Johnson, N. F. The psychological reality of phrase-structure rules. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1965, 4, 469-475.
Kolers, P. A. Interlingual facilitation of short-term memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1966, 5, 314-319.
Mehler, J. Some effects of grammatical transformations on the recall of English sentences. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1963, 2, 346-351.
Sachs, J. D. S. Recognition memory for syntactic and semantic aspects of connected discourse. Perception and Psychophysics, 1967, 2, 437-442.
Savin, H. B. & Perchonock, E. Grammatical structure and the immediate recall of English sentences. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1965, 4, 348-353.
STEP: Memory for the Pragmatic Implications of Sentences 
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