The initial experiment in the course Experimental Psychology dealt with recall through a time-bound test with the simple instruction of writing the letters of the alphabet backwards. There were five trials with a thirty-second time limit for each. A male Psychology student volunteered to be the subject of the experiment. The subject failed to complete writing the entire alphabet backwards in spite of the five trials. There was, however, marked and constant improvement in the first four trials despite an obvious regression in the last. The subject was then interviewed and asked which factor deterred him the most in accomplishing the test. His retort was that he was accustomed with the alphabet in its original order. It is for this reason that the factor of familiarity will be reviewed.
The Effect of Word Familiarity on Letter Recognition
Word familiarity is an index of the relative ease of word perception, and is characterized by facilitation and accuracy on word or letter recognition. The interaction of characters, which increased with the value of familiarity, might function “as a large symbol”; and enhance a “pop-out” function with an escaping character inhibiting other characters and enhancing the segmentation of the character (as a figure) from the ground. Imagery is known as a crucial factor in memory recall. It is used for representation of previously learned material as well as an approach for learning new material. Even though imagery proved to be significant in learning; the results were correlational, meaning no cause could be assigned, because of confounding within the experiment. There are number of other factors that play a role in learning, like concreteness and familiarity.
However, instead of an escaping character being the inhibiter, the group decided to consider if the entire figure could function in the same light thus deterring from learning new materials.
The shortest-lived model of word recognition is that words are read...