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Zacks, R. T., Hasher, L., Sanft, H., Alba, J. W., & Caniglia, K. (1984). Is temporal order encoded automatically? Memory & Cognition, 12, 387-394.


The reported experiment tested the suggestion that encoding of temporal order is automatic. Specifically, two of Hasher and Zacks's (1979) automaticity criteria were examined: (1) that the amount and appropriateness of practice received would not affect acquisition of temporal information, and (2) that reliable individual differences would not be found a test of memory for temporal order. Contrary to expectations, neither of these criteria was confirmed: Retention of temporal order increased with practice at three (or four) successive lists. And, reliable individual differences were indicated by the findings that subjects' relative performance levels remained stable across lists, and that groups with higher average academic ability outperformed those with lower ability. Similar results were obtained for a free-recall task (in which case they were expected). Problems of assessing degrees of nonautomaticity are discussed. Our data are seen to be in general conformity with Tzeng's (e.g. Tzeng & Cotton, 1980) "study-phase" retrieval theory of temporal coding.

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