A partial replication of Dukes and Bastian study on the recall of Concrete and Abstract Words

Psychology Internal Assessment

Psychology Standard Level

Paul Bao

Candidate Number: cxd791


Word Count:


Abstract                1

Introduction         1

Method         2

        Design         2

        Participants         3

        Materials/Apparatus        3

        Procedure         .3

Results         4

Discussion         4

References         5

Appendices         6


This experiment was conducted to investigate dual-coding in the performance of memory (Pavio, 1969). The experiment was a partial replication of Dukes and Bastian (1966), to establish if a list of concrete words would be better recalled than a list of abstract words in immediate free recall. The participants consisted of 17 students from a selective school in Queensland, all 13 to 16 years of age. The experiment was of a single blind, repeated measures design. Participants were required to view and recall four sets of eight abstract words and four sets of eight concrete words. The dependent variable was the number of words recalled in each set, the independent variable was the type (concrete and abstract) of words recalled. The experimental environment was controlled to ensure the accuracy and validity of the results obtained. The mean recall of the concrete words was 21.41 words, and the mean recall of the abstract words was 16.71 words. These results supported and replicated the results of the Dukes and Bastian experiment and demonstrated that a list of concrete words was better recalled than a list of abstract words.


The Dukes and Bastian study (1966) investigated the differences in the level of recall of lists of concrete and abstract words. Paivio’s  theory on dual coding (1969) predicted that concrete nouns would have a higher recall than abstract nouns; the reason for this was that concrete words had a verbal basis and a literal basis, for e.g. the word ‘cow’ provides a verbal code to a listener as well as a visually literal code of a cow. Where abstract words only have one code for example, the word ‘democracy’ does not have a visually literal code, just a verbal code of the word ‘democracy’. This is because abstract words are defined as a concept, idea or emotion, which don’t have a physical basis and therefore cannot be visualised literally, only verbally. This makes the concrete words easier to recall than the abstract words because if the verbal for a concrete word fails, then there is a chance of recalling the visual code, where the recall of abstract words solely rely on the verbal code.

The aim of this experiment is to establish a partial replication of the study done by Dukes and Bastian (1966) on the immediate free recall of concrete and abstract words and replicate the results. The study conducted by Dukes and Bastian used college students as participants, these participants were presented with concrete word lists and abstract word lists, each containing 10 words. The results of the study showed that on immediate free recall, the mean recall of concrete words was higher than the mean recall of abstract words. The current experiment used a repeated measures design consisting of 4 lists of 8 concrete words compared to 4 lists of abstract words. The prediction of this experiment is the same of that of the Dukes and Bastian study, stating the concrete words will contain a higher mean recall than abstract words, based on Paivio’s (1969) dual-coding theory.

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The experiment used a single blind, repeated measures design. This type of design was utilized to reduce differences such as gender and age.

Environmental control was upheld by testing in groups and in an enclosed environment with no distractions from outside the experiment. All participants received the same word lists and stimulus and were all given the same time limit to complete the experiment in the same conditions.

The independent variable of the experiment was the word type, abstract or concrete words. The dependent variable of the experiment was the number ...

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