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Irrelevant Speech Effect

Irrelevant Speech Effect

Abstract Eight students participated in a study of the Irrelevant Speech Effect. Irrelevant speech disrupts immediate serial recall. In this study we test the disruptive effects of irrelevant speech on serial recall. In this experiment participants saw a list of randomly ordered digits 1-9. During the some trials they heard irrelevant speech in the background, while other trials were quiet. This irrelevant speech was a passage from Franz Kafka in German (Francis, Neath, & VanHorn, 2008). We found a main effect of Trial Type, which were the quiet and irrelevant speech background conditions.

This is evidence that the irrelevant speech effect did take place. Irrelevant Speech Effect The irrelevant speech effect is the impairment if performance in memory tasks as a result of irrelevant background speech (Colle & Welsh, 1976; Jones & Macken, 1993; LeCompte, Neely & Wilson, 1997). Previous research has found that irrelevant speech impairs serial recall tasks, so our experiment sets out to test this research on immediate serial recall. Irrelevant speech is present in our everyday life. For instance, when a student is at school studying they are often subject to the irrelevant speech of other students.

This can be very distracting, and affect their ability to take in the information that they are trying to learn. Irrelevant speech is also common to many other environments, such as work environments. Performance within workplace situations such as schoolrooms, open-plan offices or trading areas might benefit from a reduction in auditory distraction (Beaman, 2005). The irrelevant speech effect also has other important suggestions about the nature of memory. Previous research has proposed that auditory stimuli, such as irrelevant speech, are automatically entered into a phonological store where they are represented as phonemes.

Visual stimuli, on the other hand, have to be rehearsed subvocally and then translated into phonemes to be represented in the phonological store (Salame, 1982: Baddeley, 1989: LeCompte, Neely & Wilson, 1997). This is why irrelevant speech effects memory. A person sees visual stimuli while hearing auditory stimuli. They are trying to rehearse the visual stimuli subvocally in their head while they have the auditory stimuli also entering into their phonological loop, which causes confusion, and thus impairment to recall.

In the present experiment, we tested the effects or irrelevant speech to the immediate recall of a list of digits ranging from 1-9. The irrelevant speech was present on some trials while others were quiet. The irrelevant speech in our experiment was a passage from Franz Kafka in German, so participants in our study weren’t able to understand the speech. However, it still served as a distractor from the visual stimuli. In our experiment we found that trial type, quiet or irrelevant speech, affected the immediate recall of the list of numbers. This is evidence that Irrelevant Speech Effect did take place. Method

Participants The participants were 8 undergraduates (7 female) in a Human Learning and Performance course at the University of North Florida. Participation satisfied a partial course requirement. We added their data to results from previous semesters to bring the total number of participants to twenty-four. Apparatus Each participant worked at a Dell OptiPlex 780 computer equipped with a standard keyboard, monitor, and mouse. Participants wore headphones for auditory stimuli. Each computer ran under Windows Vista. CogLab 2. 0 (Francis, Neath, and Van Horn, 2008) presented the stimuli and recorded the responses.

Procedure Each participant sat approximately 2 feet from his or her monitor with their hard on the mouse. To begin each trial, the participant clicked an onscreen Next Trial button. On each trial the participant either saw or heard the digits 1 through 9 in random order. Then, an onscreen keypad became active. The task was to click the keypad digits in the presentation order. After clicking all the buttons to recreate the list, the participant clicked the Next Trial button to start the next trial. Participants could not correct mistakes in button presses.

The experiment included two types of trials: some trials had an irrelevant speech background (a passage from Franz Kafka in German) and some had a quiet background. The order of background conditions Participants completed two blocks. Each block contained 30 trials. Design The present study follows a 2 X 9 X 2 within-subjects design. The independent variables were Block (with 2 levels), Serial Position (with 9 levels: digits 1-9), and Trial Type (with 2 levels: quiet, or irrelevant speech). The dependent variable was Probability of Correct Serial Recall. Results

Table 1 shows the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for Block, Serial Position, and Trial Type. We found a main effect of Serial Position (F(8,184) = 49. 44, p < . 05). We also found a main effect of Trial Type (F(1. 23) = 24. 44, p < . 05). We found an interaction of Block X Serial Position (F(8,184) = 2. 70, p < . 05). No interaction was found for Block X Serial Position X Trial Type (F(8,184) = . 82, NS). Table 2 presents the means and standard errors for Block 1, Serial Position, and Trial Type. Table 3 presents the means and standard errors for Block 2, Serial Position, and Trial Type.

Figure 1 presents the means and standard errors of Serial Position and Trial Type for Block 1. Figure 2 presents the means and standard errors of Serial Position and Trial Type for Block 2. Figures 1 and 2 show in graphic forms that we found a main effect of trial type. This is evidence that the Irrelevant Speech Effect did take place. Table 1 presents the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for Block, Serial Position, and Trial Type. Source| SS| df| MS| F| Sig. | Block| . 05| 1| . 05| . 48| . 498| Error(Block)| 2. 30| 23| . 10| | | Serial Position| 21. 19| 8| 2. 65| 49. 44| . 000| Error(Serial Position)| 9. 86| 184| . 05| | |

Trial Type| 4. 52| 1| 4. 52| 24. 44| . 000| Error(Trial Type)| 4. 25| 23| . 18| | | Block X Serial Position| . 53| 8| . 07| 2. 70| . 008| Error(Block X Serial Position)| 4. 52| 184| . 02| | | Block X Trial Type| . 08| 1| . 08| 2. 21| . 151| Error(Block X Trial Type)| . 79| 23| . 03| | | Serial Position X Trial Type| . 11| 8| . 01| . 49| . 864| Error(Serial Position X Trial Type)| 5. 17| 184| . 03| | | Block X Serial Position X Trial Type| . 18| 8| . 02| . 82| . 588| Error(Block X Serial Position X Trial Type)| 4. 93| 184| . 03|  |  | Table 2 presents the means and standard errors for Block 1, Serial Position, and Trial Type.

Block| Serial Position| Trial Type| Mean| SE| Mean| SE| Mean| SE| 1| 1| Quiet| . 874| . 024| . 810| . 026| . 529| . 032| | | Irrelevant Speech| . 747| . 035| | | | | | 2| Quiet| . 799| . 030| . 698| . 026| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 597| . 033| | | | | | 3| Quiet| . 783| . 033| . 737| . 077| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 691| . 150| | | | | | 4| Quiet| . 652| . 040| . 595| . 050| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 538| . 085| | | | | | 5| Quiet| . 564| . 046| . 462| . 045| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 361| . 050| | | | | | 6| Quiet| . 558| . 050| . 467| . 045| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 377| . 050| | | | | | 7| Quiet| . 437| . 40| . 353| . 038| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 268| . 041| | | | | | 8| Quiet| . 406| . 043| . 314| . 034| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 222| . 032| | | | | | 9| Quiet| . 424| . 043| . 326| . 040| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 229| . 041| | | | | Figure 1 presents the means and standard errors for Block 1, Serial Position, and Trial Type in graphic form. Table 3 presents the means and standard errors for Block 2, Serial Position, and Trial Type. Block| Serial Position| Trial Type| Mean| SE| Mean| SE| Mean| SE| 2| 1| Quiet| . 839| . 034| . 788| . 032| . 544| . 036| | | Irrelevant Speech| . 737| . 035| | | | | | 2| Quiet| . 45| . 039| . 676| . 032| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 607| . 038| | | | | | 3| Quiet| . 739| . 046| . 652| . 043| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 566| . 048| | | | | | 4| Quiet| . 651| . 048| . 586| . 042| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 522| . 048| | | | | | 5| Quiet| . 585| . 049| . 519| . 043| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 452| . 047| | | | | | 6| Quiet| . 619| . 055| . 527| . 049| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 435| . 052| | | | | | 7| Quiet| . 426| . 049| . 383| . 046| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 340| . 055| | | | | | 8| Quiet| . 404| . 045| . 360| . 040| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 316| . 042| | | | | | 9| Quiet| . 455| . 52| . 405| . 048| | | | | Irrelevant Speech| . 355| . 051| | | | | Figure 2 presents the means and standard errors for Block 2, Serial Position, and Trial Type in graphic form. Conclusion In this experiment we examined the abilities of immediate serial recall when an irrelevant auditory stimuli, irrelevant speech, was present in the background. This research is particularly interesting because it is so prevalent in everyday life. We encounter situations on a daily basis where irrelevant speech is distracting us from particular tasks. In our experiment participants performed two blocks to determine if learning took place.

However, we found no interaction of Block X Trial Type (F(1,23) = 2. 21, NS), which is evidence that learning did not take place. We did find a main effect of Trial Type (F(1,23) = 24. 44, p < . 05), which is evidence that the Irrelevant Speech Effect did take place. There is no general agreement on why this occurs, but there are a few theories. One being that there is interference in working memory, because the participant is trying to translate the visual stimuli into working memory subvocally, while the auditory stimuli is also being translated into the working memory, this causing a disruption (Francis, Neath, & VanHorn, 2008).

In our experiment we used irrelevant speech in German, which is a foreign language to the participants in our study. Previous research has used familiar words, as well as tones to see if words are more disruptive to the irrelevant speech effect than are tones. In the future it would be interesting to study the effects of language to the irrelevant speech effect. For instance, if some trials had the participant’s native language as the irrelevant speech, and some trials had a foreign language as the irrelevant speech.

This would test the effects of participants phonological coding when processing the irrelevant speech and the visual stimuli. References Colle, H. A. , & Welsh, A. (1976). Acoustic masking in primary memory. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 15(1), 17-31. doi:10. 1016/S0022-5371(76)90003-7 Jones, D. M. , & Macken, W. J. (1993). Irrelevant tones produce an irrelevant speech effect: Implications for phonological coding in working memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19(2), 369-381. doi:10. 037/0278-7393. 19. 2. 369 Jones, D. M. , Macken, W. J. , & Murray, A. C. (1993). Disruption of visual short-term memory by changing-state auditory stimuli: The role of segmentation. Memory & Cognition, 21(3), 318-328. LeCompte, D. C. (1996). Irrelevant speech, serial rehearsal, and temporal distinctiveness: A new approach to the irrelevant speech effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 22(5), 1154-1165. doi:10. 1037/0278-7393. 22. 5. 1154 LeCompte, D. C. , Neely, C. B. , & Wilson, J. R. (1997).

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