A direct replication and extension of Popp and Serra (2016, experiment 1): Better free recall and worse cued recall of animal names than object names, accounting for semantic similarity

Date

2023

Authors

Mah, Eric Y.
Grannon, Kelly E. L.
Campbell, Alison
Tamburri, Nicholas
Jamieson, Randall K.
Lindsay, D. Stephen

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Frontiers in Psychology

Abstract

Introduction: Free recall tends to be better for names of animate concepts such as animals than for names of inanimate objects. In Popp and Serra’s 2016 article, the authors replicated this “animacy effect” in free recall but when participants studied words in pairs (animate-animate pairs intermixed with inanimate-inanimate pairs) and were tested with cued recall, performance was better for inanimate-inanimate pairs than for animate-animate pairs (“reverse animacy”). We tested the replicability of this surprising effect and one possible explanation for the effect (semantic similarity). Methods: Our Experiment 1 was a preregistered direct replication (N = 101) of Popp and Serra’s Experiment 1 (mixed-lists condition). In a second preregistered experiment conducted in four different samples undergraduate N = 153, undergraduate N = 143, online Prolific N = 101, online Prolific/English-as-a-first-language N = 150), we manipulated the within-category semantic similarity of animal and object wordlists. Results: AIn Experiment 1, just as in Popp and Serra, we observed an animacy effect for free recall and a reverse animacy effect for cued recall. Unlike Popp and Serra, we found that controlling for interference effects rendered the reverse animacy effect non-significant. We took this as evidence that characteristics of the stimulus sets (e.g., category structure, within-category similarity) may play a role in animacy and reverse animacy effects. In Experiment 2, in three out of our four samples, we observed reverse animacy effects when within-category similarity was higher for animals and when within-category similarity was equated for animals and objects. Discussion: Our results suggest that the reverse animacy effect observed in Popp and Serra’s 2016 article is a robust and replicable effect, but that semantic similarity alone cannot explain the effect.

Description

The authors thank Michael Serra for providing the original experiment program and data, and for his helpful suggestions and feedback on the replication study design and on a draft of this manuscript, and Michael Masson and Adam Krawitz for their helpful suggestions on the manuscript. The authors would also thank Lorne Campbell for providing an inspiring example of a graduate seminar undertaking a direct replication (https://osf.io/9m4ed/)–the context within which the current work began.

Keywords

adaptive memory, animacy, cued recall, free recall, direct replication

Citation

Mah, E. Y., Grannon, K. E. L., Campbell, A., Tamburri, N., Jamieson, R. K., & Lindsay, D. S. (2023). A direct replication and extension of Popp and Serra (2016, experiment 1): Better free recall and worse cued recall of animal names than object names, accounting for semantic similarity. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1146200. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1146200