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Abstract and Concrete Words

  • Date Submitted: 02/24/2012 04:11 AM
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Abstract and Concrete Words: How Well Can They Be Remembered?

This project investigates whether concrete or abstract words are better remembered. The responses of concrete words should be noticeably higher than that of the abstract words. This is because words that are concrete have more meaning to them, they can be visualised, therefore, are easier to remember than abstract words. This was completed by showing concrete and abstract words which were to be remembered, all shown in random order, on a screen. After all the words were shown, participants had to note which words they could remember. This was not made easy as there was a distracter task in between viewing the words and writing them down. The hypothesis was that concrete words are easier to recall than abstract words. It was learned that the hypothesis was correct.

In everyday life, we may find that certain words are harder to remember than others. This could depend on many different variables. One variable could be the concreteness of a word. Research shown by Walker & Hulme (1999) stated that “concrete words will have more meaning-based features associated with them than abstract words”. For example, the words “cross” and “faith” are both related to religion, but the concrete word that is “cross” could be easier to remember in a word-remembering task than the abstract word which is “faith”.

There have been many researches which concluded that concrete words are better remembered than abstract words. In a research by Schwanenflugel & Stowe, (1989) it has been concluded in a word-naming task, that abstract words took longer to name than concrete words. This is because words which have direct sensory referents and from words which we can form a mental image are processed faster than abstract words as with abstract words, it is not possible to form mental imagery.

Paivio’s (Paivio, 1971, 1986) theory of dual-coding model could be an explanation to why the process...


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