The Occurrence of Clustering in the Recall of Randomly Arranged Associates

This experiment is based on the following paper:

Bousfield, W. (1953). The occurrence of clustering in the recall of randomly arranged associates. Journal of General Psychology, 49, 229-240. Reprinted with permission from the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation. Published by Heldref Publications, 1319 Eighteenth Street, Washington, DC, 20036-1801. Copyright 1953.


During the 1950s and ‘60s many psychologists provided dramatic evidence that people are not passive learners simply forming associations between stimuli, but take an active role to find ways to make the information they are learning more memorable. One of the classic studies of this kind was conducted by Bousfield. In a previous study he noticed a tendency among subjects to cluster related items during free recall of word lists. For example, in a list of birds, hawk, eagle, vulture, and duck, turkey, chicken, goose, may be clustered together. In this study Bousfield presented subjects with unrelated lists of words to see if during recall they would to organize their answers in categorical fashion.


The full text describing the experiment is available here.

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