Menov¸ Jov Fvequenc¸ oJ Heaving FopuIav Songs

AulIov|s)· Janes B. FidIev, Eugene B. ZecIneislev, JoIn J. SIaugIness¸
Souvce· TIe Anevican JouvnaI oJ Fs¸cIoIog¸, VoI. 101, No. 1 |Spving, 1988), pp. 31-49
FuIIisIed I¸· University of Illinois Press
SlaIIe UBL· http://www.jstor.org/stable/1422791 .
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American Journal of Psychology.
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Memory
for
frequency
of
hearing
popular songs
JAMES
R. FIDLER and EUGENE B. ZECHMEISTER
Loyola University
of
Chicago
JOHN J.
SHAUGHNESSY
Hope College
In two
experiments college
students were asked to
provide
situational fre-
quency
estimates of 10-s
excerpts
from rock
songs.
In both
experiments
familiarity
of the musical selections heard
one, two, three,
or four times was
varied. In
Experiment
2 the nature of instructions
given
to
subjects prior
to
presentation
of the musical
excerpts
was also
manipulated.
Across both
experiments subjects'
estimates were less accurate for unfamiliar than for
familiar rock music. In
Experiment
2 instructions to remember
frequency,
as well as
general memory
instructions,
resulted in better
memory
for
pre-
sentation
frequency
than did instructions to
"ignore"
music while
working
on math
problems. Memory
for situational
frequency
was also related to
knowledge
of rock music as defined
by subjects' ability
to
identify
the titles
and artists of the
presented songs.
The
present pattern
of results with
popular
music is viewed as similar to that obtained in
experiments investigating
memory
for
frequency
of verbal stimuli.
Although providing support
for an
automatic
processing
view of
frequency encoding,
the results also
implicate
meaningful
elaboration of stimuli as an
important
determinant of
memory
for
frequency
of events.
The
process by
which we
keep
track of the number of times an event
was
experienced
has been called
obligatory,
or automatic
(Hasher
&
Chromiak, 1977;
Hintzman &
Stern,
1978).
As an automatic
process,
frequency encoding presumably
takes
place
with minimal
cognitive
effort,
exhibits little
developmental change,
is carried out
regardless
of
intent,'
and relative to more effortful or controlled
processes,
is
expected
to show less
variability among
individuals
(Hasher
&
Zacks,
1979, 1984).
Although
results of numerous studies have
provided support
for
the view that
frequency
is encoded
automatically (see
Hasher &
Zacks,
1984,
for a recent
review),
there is also evidence that the
automaticity
view of
frequency encoding
is
incomplete.
For
instance,
several in-
vestigators
have demonstrated that
frequency judgments
are more
AMERICAN
JOURNAL
OF PSYCHOLOGY
Spring
1988,
Vol.
101,
No.
1,
pp.
31-49
@ 1988
by
the Board of Trustees of the
University
of Illinois
32 FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
accurate
following
semantic than nonsemantic
processing (Fisk
&
Schneider, 1984; Greene, 1984; Norton,
Johnson,
&
Zechmeister,
1985;
Rose &
Rowe, 1976; Rowe,
1974).
Also,
Greene found that
subjects performed
less well on a
frequency judgment
task when no
memory
test was
expected (strictly
incidental
learning)
than when
either a
general memory
test was
expected (intentional memory)
or
when
subjects
were told to
expect
a
frequency
test
(intentional
fre-
quency).
Results of these studies
suggest
that
frequency encoding
is
sensitive to differences in
processing
activities as well as intent.
Memory
for event
frequency
has also been found to
vary
as a
function of the
familiarity
of the stimulus material. Rao
(1983)
re-
ported
that
subjects judged presentation frequency
of low
linguistic
frequency
words more
accurately
than
they
did words of
high linguistic
frequency.
He
suggested
that
memory
for
frequency
is influenced
by
intrinsic item
characteristics,
such as
meaning
and
pronunciability.
Effects of
linguistic frequency
do not
appear
to be
anticipated
on the
basis of an automatic
processing theory
of event
frequency.
Rather,
Hasher and Chromiak
(1977, p. 174)
have
suggested
that automatic
encoding
of
frequency
information extends
potentially
to all
stimuli,
whether the stimuli are
meaningful
or not. The effects of
linguistic
frequency
on
frequency judgment accuracy appear
to
pose
a
problem
for this
automaticity
view of
frequency encoding.
The
present experiments
were carried out to
investigate
further
the effect of instructional set and stimulus
familiarity (meaning)
on
memory
for
frequency.
In
addition,
we
sought
to assess the effect of
stimulus
knowledge (expertise)
on
frequency judgment accuracy.
Re-
sults of
previous experiments
show that both
type
of
processing (se-
mantic vs.
nonsemantic)
and stimulus
familiarity
influence
memory
for event
frequency.
These
findings
can be used to derive
predictions
concerning
the effects of
expertise. Specifically,
individuals with
high
knowledge
of a
particular
stimulus domain should make more accurate
frequency judgments
than individuals with low
knowledge.
This is
because
high-knowledge subjects
can be
expected
to be better able
to
recognize
as familiar a
greater range
of stimuli and be more
likely
to
process
these stimuli
meaningfully
than
low-knowledge subjects.
To-be-remembered stimuli were selections from rock
songs.
Musical
excerpts
were used for two reasons.
First,
although
a
ubiquitous
stim-
ulus in natural
settings,
music
represents
a
relatively
rare stimulus in
memory
research. To our
knowledge,
there are no
previous
studies
investigating memory
for
frequency
of
hearing
musical selections.
Second,
by using
rock music we were able to
develop operational
definitions of stimulus
familiarity
and
expertise
on the basis of
subjects'
judgments
of characteristics of the musical selections.
MEMORY FOR SONGS 33
Two
experiments
are
reported.
Results of the first
experiment
indicated that
frequency judgment accuracy
is affected
by
stimulus
familiarity
and is
positively
correlated with a measure of
subject
ex-
pertise. Experiment
2 was
designed
to
replicate
these
findings
as well
as to examine the effect of instructional set on
frequency judgment
performance.
As will be
demonstrated,
each of the
independent
var-
iables under
investigation produced significant
effects on individuals'
judgments
of
frequency
of
hearing excerpts
of rock music.
EXPERIMENT 1
Two
groups
of
college
students listened to
10-s
excerpts
of rock
songs,
with
excerpts presented
one, two, three,
or four times. Musical
selections heard
by
one
group
of
subjects
were from
songs
that
pre-
testing
had shown were
recognized
as familiar
by
a
large majority
of
subjects. Excerpts
heard
by
the second
group
were taken from
sig-
nificantly
less
familiar,
but
"similar-sounding"
rock
songs.
All
subjects
were told that their
memory
for the
songs
would be
tested,
although
the nature of the test was
unspecified.
After
listening
to the
pres-
entation
tape, subjects
were asked to estimate
frequency
of
songs
that
had been on the
tape
and of
songs
not
presented previously
on the
tape. Subjects
in the familiar
song
condition then listened to the test
tape again
and
attempted
to
identify
both the title and artist for each
of the 20 test
songs.
This
procedure
was not followed for
subjects
in
the unfamiliar
song
condition,
because few students were able to
identify
more than one or two of the unfamiliar
songs.
Thus,
for
subjects listening
to familiar
songs,
a measure of stimulus
expertise
was available based on number of correct identifications of titles and
artists of
popular
rock
songs.
METHOD
Stimulus materials
The first author chose 22
popular songs
based on recent radio and music
industry surveys.
These "well-known"
songs (e.g.,
Michael
Jackson's
"Thriller")
were in the
"top
40"
during
the last few
years.
An additional
22
songs
were chosen that were
judged
to sound similar to the well-known
songs
in terms of
rhythmic
structure,
tonality,
instrumentation,
and musical
style.
These
songs
came from the first author's
private
collection and con-
sisted of such
songs
as Aldo Nova's "Under the Gun." The 44
songs
were
edited,
and 10-s
excerpts
from the
beginnings
of the
songs
were recorded
in a random order on a master
tape.
No
lyrics
were in the
excerpts.
Intervals
34
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
of 5 to 7 s
separated
the selections. Audio
tapes
were edited
using
an
Onkyo
TA-2070 stereo cassette deck and a
Philips
AF 777 turntable.
For the
pretest,
the master
tape containing excerpts
from 44
songs
was
played
for 46
Loyola University undergraduate
students. Students were
asked to
try
to
identify
the
song
title and artist for each of the
songs,
as
well as to rate on a
7-point
scale each
song's familiarity
(7
=
highly
familiar).
Results of this
pretest
confirmed the
experimenter's
a
priori judgment
of
stimulus
familiarity.
The mean
familiarity rating
of the well-known
songs
was
5.18,
and the mean
rating
of the less well-known
songs
was 1.53. Correct
identifications of the titles and artists of the familiar
songs averaged
about
50%,
but
only
two correct identifications were made
by subjects
for the
unfamiliar
songs.
Twenty songs
were selected from each
pool
of familiar and unfamiliar
songs
to serve as critical items. For each
familiarity category,
a
presentation
tape
was
prepared
that consisted of
52,
10-s musical
excerpts separated by
silent intervals of 5 to 7 s. There were 16 critical
songs
on each
tape
that
were
repeated
one, two, three,
or four times for a total of 40
excerpts.
Six
songs
that had not been
part
of the initial
pretest,
but were
judged
to be
from the same
familiarity category,
were used as filler items. One filler
song
was
presented
six times on the
tape;
two filler
songs
were
presented
once
and one filler
song
was
presented
twice at the
beginning
of the
tape
as a
primacy
buffer;
and two filler
songs
were
presented
once at the end of the
tape
to control for
recency
effects.
For each
familiarity category,
two
presentation tapes
were
prepared.
The
alternate forms of the
presentation tapes
were edited such that
eight
critical
songs appeared
in each of two blocks. Within each block at least three
different
excerpts appeared
between
repetitions
of the same
song.
Otherwise
the
assignment
of
songs
to blocks and
frequency
levels was random. The
alternate forms of the
presentation tape
differed
only
in terms of the
ordering
of the two blocks. That
is,
on one
tape
Block A
preceded
Block
B,
and on
the other
tape
the order of blocks was reversed.
The
particular experimental arrangements
of this
study
were dictated
by
several
practical
considerations.
First,
the time
required
to
prepare
the
study
tapes prohibited
the
complete counterbalancing
of
excerpts
across blocks
and
presentation frequencies.
In
addition,
the use of more than one set of
highly
familiar
excerpts
would be
problematic given
that
only
a limited
number of rock
songs
can be considered
popular
at
any given
time for this
population
of
subjects.
The time
judged
to be
necessary
for
presentation
of
each musical
excerpt (10 s) suggested
that a
between-subjects manipulation
of the
familiarity
variable was more
appropriate
than a
within-subjects
com-
parison.
The
between-subjects design
allowed several
excerpts
to be used at
each
presentation frequency.
The use of two forms of each
familiarity tape
further assured that the obtained results were not
peculiar
to a
particularly
fortuitous random
assignment
of
song excerpts
to
presentation frequencies.
No interaction between form of the
study tape
and
any
of the main inde-
pendent
variables was obtained in the results to be
reported.
MEMORY FOR SONGS 35
The test
tapes
for each
familiarity category
consisted of
20,
10-s
excerpts
of both new and old
songs.
Sixteen of the test items were the critical items
heard on the
presentation tape;
four critical items not
previously presented
were also included on the test
tape.
The 20
songs
on the test
tape
were
randomly
ordered. Two test
tapes
were
prepared,
one for the familiar
song
condition and one for the unfamiliar
song
condition.
Procedure
Prior to
listening
to the
presentation tape,
all
subjects
were
given general
memory
instructions
("try
to remember as
many songs
as
you can")
and
were told that the exact nature of the
memory
test would be described after
they
listened to the
tape.
Half the
subjects
were
randomly assigned
to listen
to one of the alternate forms of the familiar
song tape;
the other half were
assigned
to listen to one of the unfamiliar
song tapes.
After
listening
to the
approximately
23-min
tape, subjects
were asked to fill out a brief
question-
naire
asking
about music
listening
habits and musical
preferences.
This
served as a filler task
prior
to
presentation
of the test
tape
and took
subjects
about 2
min
to
complete.
For the
frequency judgment
test,
subjects
were asked to listen to the 20
excerpts
on the test
tape
and to estimate the number of times that
they
had
heard each musical selection.
Subjects
were instructed to use a number
between 0 and 10 for their estimates.
Approximately
10 s
separated pre-
sentations of the
songs
on the test
tape.
After the
frequency
test,
subjects
who heard the familiar
song tape
were asked to listen to the test
tape
one
more time and to
try
to
identify
the artist and title of the
songs.
Both
study
and test
tapes
were
presented
over
headphones
connected to a stereo cassette
tape player.
Subjects
Sixty Hope College undergraduates participated
for credit in their intro-
ductory psychology
course. Half were
assigned
to listen to the familiar
song
tape
and half
assigned
to listen to the unfamiliar
song tape.
All
subjects
were tested
individually by
one of five
experimenters
who were students in
an
upper-division
research
laboratory
course.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Several measures of
frequency judgment accuracy
were used to
assess the effects of actual
frequency
of occurrence and of stimulus
familiarity.
A measure of absolute
accuracy
was the number of
"hits,"
or the number of times a
subject correctly
identified the true
pre-
sentation
frequency
of critical
songs.
A measure of relative
accuracy
was the correlation for each
subject
between each
repeated
item's
true
frequency
and its
judged frequency
(see
Flexser &
Bower,
1975).
It
may
be noted that
automaticity
of
frequency encoding
has been
primarily
invoked to account for
subjects'
relative
frequency
discrim-
36
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
ination
performance;
nevertheless,
investigators
have
generally
re-
ported
both absolute and relative
frequency judgment
measures. It
seems
important
to document whether these
types
of
judgments
are
differentially
affected
by independent
variables deemed relevant to
the automatic
processing argument. Analyses
were also carried out
using
each
subject's
mean
frequency
estimates for items
appearing
zero
through
four
times; however,
zero-presented
items were
always
analyzed separately.
We believe that decisions as to how
many
times
an item was
presented (repeated items)
are
fundamentally
different
from decisions as to whether an item was
experienced previously (zero-
presented items).
Results were treated as
significant
at the .05 level.
Mean
frequency
estimates,
as well as mean number of
hits,
made
by subjects
in the familiar and unfamiliar
song groups
for
songs pre-
sented
zero, one, two, three,
and four
times,
are shown in Table 1.
For both
groups,
mean estimated
frequency
increased as true fre-
quency
increased.
Inspection
of the means
reported
in Table
1
also
reveals that
frequency
estimates of unfamiliar
presented songs
were
generally higher
than estimates
given
for familiar
songs.
The main
effects
of
familiarity,
F(1, 56)
=
10.09,
MS,
=
2.91,
and of actual
frequency
of occurrence
F(3, 168)
=
181.09,
MS,
=
.55,
were
sig-
nificant when mean
frequency
estimates served as the
dependent
variable. There was no difference between
familiarity
conditions in
terms of mean
frequency
estimates
given
to
zero-presented songs.
Number of hits was
significantly greater
when
subjects
listened to
familiar rock
songs
than when
they
listened to unfamiliar rock
songs,
F(1, 56)
=
16.82,
MSe
=
1.83.
Accuracy
in terms of hits decreased
significantly
as
presentation frequency
increased,
F(3, 168)
=
29.44,
MSe
=
.73. The interaction of stimulus
familiarity
and
presentation
frequency
was also
significant, F(3, 168)
=
4.00,
indicating
that the
decline in absolute
accuracy
was
greater
in the familiar than in the
unfamiliar condition. This interaction is
likely
due to a basement effect
Table 1. Mean
frequency
estimates
(est)
and mean number of hits as a
function of
presentation frequency
and
familiarity
conditions
Presentation
frequency
Condition 0 1 2 3 4 Overall
Familiar
M est .20 1.18 2.95 3.52 4.38 2.45
M hits 3.40 2.93 1.60 1.47 1.03 2.09
Unfamiliar
M est .20 2.10 3.42 4.49 4.90 3.02
M hits 3.53 1.60 .90 .93 .73 1.54
MEMORY FOR SONGS 37
in the unfamiliar
group
at the
higher
levels of
presentation frequency.
The two
experimental groups
did not differ
significantly
in the num-
ber of times that
zero-presented songs
were
correctly
identified as
new. Correlations between estimated and actual
frequencies
were
greater
overall for
subjects
in the familiar
song
condition
(M
=
.68)
than for
subjects
in the unfamiliar
song
condition
(M
=
.59);
however,
this difference was not
statistically
reliable,
t(58)
= 1.36. The number
of individual
subjects
with correlations
significantly greater
than zero
was 26
(of possible 30)
in the familiar and 21 in the unfamiliar con-
dition. All
subjects
showed
positive
correlations,
and the overall results
point
to a remarkable
ability
of
subjects tojudge
the relative
frequency
of musical
excerpts.
Thus far we have demonstrated that
subjects judging
unfamiliar
songs
were less able to
identify correctly
exact
frequency
of
presen-
tation than were
subjects judging
familiar
songs (i.e.,
in terms of
hits).
Stimulus
familiarity
did
not, however,
significantly
affect
subjects'
ability
to discriminate relative
frequency (i.e.,
in terms of the corre-
lational
measure), although
both the difference in mean correlations
as well as the
proportion
of
subjects
in each
group
with
significant
individual correlations
provide
some evidence of
greater accuracy
for
familiar
songs.
The
significant
difference in absolute
frequency judg-
ment
accuracy
is a result of the
tendency
of
subjects listening
to
unfamiliar music to overestimate actual
frequency
to a
greater degree
than
subjects listening
to familiar music
(see
Table
1).
Subjects' prior knowledge
of rock music was found to be related
to the
accuracy
of both absolute and relative
frequency judgments.
Adding
the number of correct identifications of
song
titles and artists
by subjects
in the familiar
song
condition
yielded
a measure of
subjects'
knowledge
of rock music. Because there were 20 test
songs,
the max-
imum score was 40
(range
=
2-36).
The number of correct identi-
fications correlated
significantly
both with number of hits for
pre-
sented items
(r
=
.44)
and with the correlational measure of relative
accuracy
based on items
presented
one to four times
(r
=
.46).
There-
fore,
prior knowledge
of rock music is
related,
although only
to a
moderate
degree,
to
ability
to remember the
frequency
of occurrence
of
excerpts
from rock
songs.
EXPERIMENT 2
Experiment
2 was an
attempt
to
replicate
the effects of stimulus
familiarity
on
frequency judgments
of
popular songs
and to
investigate
further the role of
knowledge
as an individual difference variable
38
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
affecting accuracy
of
frequency judgments. Subjects
in
Experiment
2
again
listened to
excerpts
either of familiar or unfamiliar
songs prior
to
judging presentation frequency.
Unlike
Experiment
1, however,
subjects
in both stimulus conditions were tested for
prior knowledge
of rock music. After the
frequency judgment
task,
all
subjects
were
tested for their
ability
to
identify
titles and artists of 15
songs
selected
from the familiar
song
list. This allowed us to determine whether the
relationship
between
subjects' knowledge
of rock music and
frequency
judgment accuracy
of familiar
songs
found in
Experiment 1
would
be
replicated
and whether it would also be found when
frequency
judgments
were made for unfamiliar
songs.
Such a
finding
would
suggest
that the
relationship
between
knowledge
of rock music and
memory
for
frequency
of
songs
is not due
merely
to
knowledge
of
the
specific songs
whose
presentation frequency
is
judged.
Instructions were also
manipulated
in
Experiment
2.
Subjects
were
given
one of three instructional sets:
(a)
a
frequency judgment
test
would be
given (frequency instructions), (b)
a
memory
test would be
given (memory instructions),
or
(c)
the effect of
listening
to music on
math
performance
was
being
tested
(distractor instructions). Subjects
in this latter condition were told that the
goal
of the
experiment
was
to determine whether
hearing background
music would interfere with
doing
math
problems
and that
subjects
should
"try
to
ignore
the
music" while
doing
math.
Although
it seemed
unlikely
that
subjects
would be able not to attend to
auditory
stimuli
entirely,
we did
expect
subjects (given
our cover
story)
to
try
to
ignore
the music in order
to demonstrate that
listening
to music while
studying
need not be
detrimental. Whether
subjects
in this condition would still be found
to discriminate
reliably among presentation frequencies
was a
major
question
of interest. At a
minimum,
we
expected frequency judgment
performance
in this distractor condition to be
poorer
than that in the
other conditions.
Thus,
the
complete experiment
involved six
groups
defined
by
the factorial combination of the
familiarity
and instructions
variables.
METHOD
Stimulus materials
With the
exception
of the
tape
used to assess
prior knowledge
of rock
music,
the
audiotapes
used in
Experiment
2 were identical to those used in
Experiment
1. The
tape
used to test
prior knowledge
consisted of
excerpts
from 15 rock
songs
selected from the 20 critical
songs
used in the familiar
song
condition. This test
tape
was
played
for all
subjects
in the
experiment
following
the
frequency judgment
test.
MEMORY FOR SONGS 39
Procedure
Subjects
listened to familiar or unfamiliar rock
songs
under one of three
instruction conditions. In the
frequency
condition
subjects
were told that
after the
presentation
of the musical
excerpts they
would be asked to estimate
the
frequency
with which each
song
was heard.
Subjects
in the
memory
condition were told that their
memory
for the
songs
would be
tested,
but
the exact nature of the
memory
test was not
specified. Finally, subjects
in
the distractor condition were asked to work on a
40-question
math
aptitude
test and told to
try
to
ignore
the music in the
background. Subjects
in the
distractor condition were led to believe that
performance
on the math test
was of
primary
interest in the
experiment.
Procedures were those followed in
Experiment
I with the
following
ex-
ceptions.
A
portable
cassette
tape player
was used to
present
the
audiotapes
to small
groups
of
subjects,
rather than individual
headphones
as had been
done in
Experiment
1.
Also,
after
hearing
the
presentation tape
and
prior
to the
frequency judgment
test,
subjects
did not work on a music
question-
naire as
they
did in the
previous experiment.
In
Experiment
2 this
stage
was an
approximately
2-min
interval
occupied by
the distribution of test
booklets and
reading
of instructions for the
frequency judgment
test.
Finally,
instructions for the
frequency
test did not mention an
upper
limit on
subjects'
frequency judgment
estimates.
Subjects
Subjects
were 180 students from an
introductory psychology
class at
Loyola
University
of
Chicago,
who
participated
for extra credit.
They
were ran-
domly assigned
to small
groups
of 3 to 12
subjects according
to a block
randomization schedule. The block randomization schedule was continued
until 30 students had
participated
in each of the six
experimental
conditions.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
As was done in
Experiment
1,
both absolute and relative
frequency
judgment performance
were measured
by using
mean estimated fre-
quency,
hits,
and correlations between actual and estimated
frequen-
cies. Table 2 shows the mean
frequency
estimates as well as mean hits
for
subjects
in each of the six
experimental
conditions.
Analysis
of
variance of mean estimates revealed
significant
effects for stimulus
familiarity, F(1, 174)
=
26.72, MSe
=
2.86,
and for
instructions,
F(2,
174)
= 3.15. Mean
frequency
estimates made
by subjects
in the mem-
ory
instructions conditions were
greater
overall than
judgments
made
by subjects
in the distractor or
frequency
conditions. As was found
in
Experiment
1,
mean estimated
frequency
also was
greater
when
subjects judged
unfamiliar music than when
they judged
familiar
music.
The interaction between
familiarity
and
presentation frequency
was
40
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
significant, F(3, 522)
=
4.27,
MSe
=
.46,
as was the interaction between
instructions and
presentation frequency,
F(6, 522)
= 2.79.
Thus,
the
increase in mean
judged frequency
that
accompanied
increases in
actual
presentation frequency
was not the same for the two levels of
familiarity
or across different instructional sets. Both interactions re-
flect a
leveling
off of mean estimates at the
higher
levels of
presentation
frequency
(3
and
4)
in one condition relative to another. When col-
lapsing
across instruction
conditions,
mean estimates in the unfamiliar
music condition show little difference at
frequency
levels 3 and 4.
Similarly,
when mean estimates at each level of actual
frequency
are
examined as a function of
instructions,
there is a
very
small difference
between mean
frequency judgments
at these levels in the distractor
condition relative to the differences in the other instruction conditions.
An
analysis
of mean
frequency
estimates for
zero-presented
items
revealed no
significant
differences associated with
familiarity
or in-
structions. These variables do not
apparently
influence
subjects' ability
to
judge
whether a
song
was
presented previously.
Table 2. Mean
frequency
estimates
(est)
and mean number of hits as a
function of
type
of music and instructions
Presentation
frequency
Instructions 0 1 2 3 4 Overall
Familiar music
Frequency
M est .17 1.02 2.37 2.92 3.57 2.01
M hits 3.33 3.10 1.60 1.83 1.30 2.27
Memory
M est .22 1.09 2.81 3.12 3.70 2.19
M hits 3.43 2.70 1.70 1.60 1.27 2.14
Distractor
M est .39 1.17 2.30 2.77 2.78 1.88
M hits 3.07 1.67 1.17 .97 .67 1.51
Unfamiliar music
Frequency
M est .25 1.65 2.93 3.88 3.94 2.53
M hits 3.30 1.70 1.00 1.00 .93 1.59
Memory
M est .42 1.89 3.06 4.14 4.12 2.73
M hits 3.10 1.53 .83 .63 .77 1.37
Distractor
M est .49 1.65 2.87 3.62 3.68 2.46
M hits 3.30 .60 .93 1.27 .57 1.33
MEMORY FOR SONGS 41
Analysis
of hits for
presented songs yielded significant
effects for
familiarity, F(1, 174)
=
66.43, MSe
=
1.15,
and for
instructions,
F(2,
174)
= 18.43. As was found in
Experiment
1,
absolute
frequency
judgment accuracy
was
greater
for familiar than for unfamiliar
songs.
Performance overall was
generally
best for
subjects expecting
a fre-
quency
test and
poorest
for
subjects
in the distractor condition.
A
significant
interaction was obtained between the
familiarity
and
instructions
variables,
indicating
that the differences
among
instruc-
tional
groups
were not the same for the two levels of
familiarity.
Because the overall mean hits for
presented songs
in the distractor
group listening
to unfamiliar music was
only
3.37
(of
a
possible
16),
the interaction
may
be due in
part
to a basement effect in that con-
dition. Both the
familiarity
and
instruction
variables entered into
significant
interactions with level of
presentation frequency
when hits
were scored. The
interpretation
of these
effects, too,
is
problematic
given
the
relatively poor performance
on this measure
by subjects
in
the distractor condition
listening
to unfamiliar music.
The mean correlations between actual
frequency
of occurrence and
estimated
frequency
based on each
subject's judgments
are shown in
Table 3. All correlations in Table 3 are
significantly greater
than zero.
Subjects
were more accurate when
judging
familiar
songs
than un-
familiar
songs, F(1, 174)
=
17.11, MSe
=
.033,
and were affected
by
instructional
set,
F(2, 174)
=
16.55. A
planned comparison
between
relative
accuracy
in the intentional
learning groups (memory
and
frequency instructions)
and in the incidental
group
revealed that sub-
jects' judgments
in the distractor condition were
significantly poorer
than in the intentional
groups,
F(1, 174)
=
32.60. An interaction
between instructions and stimulus
familiarity
was also
obtained,
F(2,
174)
=
3.71.
As can be seen in Table
3,
although subjects judging
frequency
of familiar music in the
memory
and
frequency groups
were more accurate than
subjects judging
unfamiliar
music,
subjects
Table 3. Mean correlations between actual
frequency
and estimated fre-
quency
of occurrence
Instructions
Music
Frequency Memory
Distractor Overall
Familiar .70
(28) .67
(26)
.44
(11)
.61
Unfamiliar .52
(19)
.53
(17)
.43
(15)
.49
Overall .61 .60 .44
Note. Numbers in
parentheses
indicate the number of
subjects (of possible
30)
with individual correlations
significantly greater
than zero.
42
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
in the distractor condition were not influenced
by familiarity.
The
effect of stimulus
familiarity
on relative
frequency judgment accuracy
was similar in both
memory
and
frequency
conditions. The numbers
of
subjects
in each condition with correlations
significantly greater
than zero
(shown
in
parentheses
in Table
3) vary directly
with mean
performance
and demonstrate that the differences
among
means are
not due to
particularly
aberrant individual scores.
After the
frequency judgment
test,
subjects
who heard either fa-
miliar or unfamiliar rock music were asked to listen to a "music test"
tape prepared prior
to the
experiment by randomly sampling
15
songs
from the familiar
song
list. An identification score was obtained for
each
subject indicating
the total number of titles and artists
correctly
identified.
Thus,
the maximum identification score was
30,
and scores
across all 180
subjects ranged
from 0 to 30. Within each
experimental
condition,
a correlation was obtained between number correct on the
identification test and measures of
frequency judgment accuracy.
The
correlations obtained between identification scores and a measure of
absolute
frequency judgment accuracy (hits)
and the measure of rel-
ative
frequency judgment accuracy
(individual correlations)
are shown
in Table 4.
When hits were
considered,
there were moderate and
significant
correlations
only
for
subjects judging
familiar music under the inten-
tional
learning
conditions. When relative
frequency judgment
accu-
racy
was
considered,
the
pattern
of results was not the same. The
measure of
expertise
was
significantly
related to relative
frequency
judgment accuracy
in the familiar music
memory
condition,
and
ap-
proached significance
in the familiar music
frequency
condition. Sur-
prisingly,
there was also a modest and
significant
correlation between
expertise
and relative
accuracy
in the distractor condition when sub-
jects judged
unfamiliar music. This last result
appears
to have no
Table 4. Correlations obtained between scores on the music identification
test and measures of absolute and relative
frequency judgment accuracy
Instructions
Music
Frequency Memory
Distractor
Familiar
Hits .42* .37* .22
Correlation .35** .64* .08
Unfamiliar
Hits .14 .18 .05
Correlation .29 -.01 .38*
*p<.05. **p<.10.
MEMORY FOR SONGS 43
obvious
interpretation
and is
perhaps
best considered a
Type
I error
in view of the other
findings.
Consider first
that,
as was seen in Tables
3 and
4,
performance
in the unfamiliar music distractor condition
was
consistently poorest.
In
fact,
when the scores of individual
subjects
were
examined,
only
in the distractor conditions were
any negative
correlations obtained when actual
frequency
was correlated with es-
timated
frequency
of
occurrence. Further,
as can be seen in Table
4,
no correlation between scores on the music identification test and hits
in the distractor conditions was
significant,
whereas,
in the other
conditions,
when relative
accuracy
and
expertise
were
correlated,
number of hits also tended to be related to the
degree
of
subjects'
knowledge.
The
strongest relationship
between
expertise
and fre-
quency judgment accuracy (.64)
was observed when relative
frequency
judgment accuracy
was assessed after
subjects
listened to familiar
excerpts
under
memory
instructions.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
The
present
research examined
memory
for
frequency
of
hearing
popular songs
as a function of stimulus
familiarity,
stimulus
knowledge,
and instructional set. Each of the variables of interest was found to
be
significantly
related to
college
students'
ability
to remember the
frequency
with which
they
heard
excerpts
of rock music.
Subjects'
highly
veridical relative
frequency judgments
across conditions
(even
when unfamiliar stimuli were
presented using
a distractor
task) support
the notion of automatic
encoding
of event
frequency (Hasher
&
Zacks,
1984).
The
present
results
do, however,
illustrate limitations of an
explanation
based
solely
on
automaticity,
and these limitations will be
the focus of the
following
discussion.
Frequency judgment accuracy
was
clearly
influenced
by
the famil-
iarity
of the to-be-remembered stimulus events.
Subjects judging
un-
familiar music
gave
overall
higher frequency
estimates than
subjects
judging
familiar
music,
and were less accurate in terms of absolute
and relative
frequency judgment
measures.
Only
in
Experiment
2 was
there
actually
a
significant
effect of
familiarity
on relative
frequency
judgment accuracy.
Nevertheless,
the
pattern
of results across the two
experiments
was similar. In
Experiment
1,
mean correlations were
.68 and .59 for
subjects judging
familiar and unfamiliar
music,
re-
spectively;
in
Experiment
2,
the correlations for
subjects given general
memory
instructions
(comparable
to instructions in
Exp. 1)
were .67
and .53 for the same
comparison.
A
similar,
if not
greater,
difference
in relative
accuracy
was found in
Experiment
2 for
subjects given
frequency encoding
instructions.
44
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
By positing
an effect of
displaced
rehearsals on
frequency judgment
performance,
one
might initially suggest
that there would be
greater
overall
frequency judgments
for familiar than unfamiliar
song
ex-
cerpts.
Hasher and Zacks
(1984)
note that
encoding
tasks that lead
to increased numbers of covert rehearsals
will,
relative to other
tasks,
produce larger frequency
estimates.
Although
the
excerpts
themselves
would
probably
not receive
displaced
rehearsals,
it is
possible
that the
song
titles would be rehearsed
covertly. Displaced
rehearsals of
song
titles
necessarily
must be considered more
likely
to occur in the fa-
miliar than unfamiliar
condition,
especially
for
high-knowledge
sub-
jects.
Nevertheless,
subjects
can discriminate
reasonably
well between
overt
presentations
and covert rehearsals
(Johnson, Taylor,
&
Raye,
1977).
In
fact,
discrimination between
presentation
and rehearsal
frequencies
remains
good
even when the
study
list is constructed to
enhance confusion between the two and when a 48-hr retention in-
terval occurs between
study
and the
frequency judgment
test
(Shaugh-
nessy
&
Underwood,
1973).
Our
interpretation
of the
present
results is that
frequencyjudgments
for unfamiliar stimuli are inflated relative to those for familiar stimuli
because unfamiliar stimuli are
perceived
as less distinct than familiar
stimuli. The
discriminability
of unfamiliar rock
songs may
be
partic-
ularly lacking
if the
lyrics
that
typically accompany
such music
(and
that were absent from the
excerpts
used in the
present experiments)
normally support
the discrimination of these
types
of
songs.
It seems
likely
that
repetitions
of other unfamiliar stimuli
may
influence the
perceived frequency
of a
given
unfamiliar stimulus. Stated less for-
mally,
our
proverbial grandmother
was
wrong
when she said that all
rock music is the same. When the rock music is
unfamiliar,
rock
songs
just
all sound similar. Lest we be accused of undue criticism of rock
music,
or even of
grandmothers,
we should
say
that we have been
told
by
those more
knowledgeable
about music than ourselves that
in the classical
realm,
music
by
Mozart and
Haydn
sounds
very
similar,
and is often
perceived
as distinct
only by
the
experienced
or
expert
listener.
The
present
stimuli and results
suggest
other
analogies
with ex-
periments
in which verbal stimuli are
presented
as
part
of a
frequency
estimation task. Rao
(1983),
for
example,
varied the
familiarity
of
words
presented
to
subjects
for situational
frequency judgments.
He
found that words of
moderately
low
linguistic frequency
were
judged
more
accurately
both on an absolute basis and in terms of relative
frequency
than were words of
high linguistic frequency.
As Rao
noted,
this result
parallels
the common
finding
that
moderately
low
linguistic
frequency
words are
recognized
better than
high linguistic frequency
MEMORY FOR SONGS 45
words. Rao found that
frequency judgment accuracy
of low
frequency
words and nonwords was similar.
Nevertheless,
some differences be-
tween estimates made to low
frequency
words and nonwords
emerged.
For
instance,
at
higher
levels of situational
frequency (3
and
5),
es-
timates made to nonwords were
significantly greater
than those made
to low
frequency
words.
It is reasonable to
propose
that the familiar musical
excerpts
used
in the
present study
are
analogous
to words of
moderately
low lin-
guistic frequency.
Moreover,
the theoretical mechanisms used to ac-
count for
familiarity
effects obtained with verbal
and
musical stimuli
may
be similar. These mechanisms
may
well influence both
recognition
memory
and
memory
for
frequency
of occurrence
(Underwood, 1971).
Specifically, recognition memory
for
moderately
low
frequency
words
is
generally greater
than
recognition memory
for
high frequency
words as well as for
very
low
frequency
words or nonwords
(e.g.,
Rao
&
Proctor, 1984; Zechmeister, Curt,
&
Sebastian,
1978).
One inter-
pretation
of this curvilinear effect is that
moderately
low
frequency
words benefit from a
greater degree
of
meaningful analysis
than do
either
very high frequency
words or
very
low
frequency
words or
nonwords
(see
Zechmeister et
al.,
1978).
That
is,
moderately
low
frequency
words
may
demand a
degree
of semantic elaboration that
is not found when words are either
very
well known or are
easily
recognized
as not known. Both
recognition memory (e.g.,
Zechmeister
&
Gude,
1974)
and
memory
for event
frequency (Fisk
&
Schneider,
1984; Greene, 1984;
Norton et
al., 1985;
Rose &
Rowe, 1976; Rowe,
1974)
are influenced
by
differences in
degree
of semantic
processing.
The familiar musical
excerpts
used in the
present study
have char-
acteristics similar to those of
moderately
low
frequency
words. These
rock
songs
were
judged
to be familiar
by
a
large majority
of
subjects,
and about half the
subjects
were able to
identify
the title or artist.
Moderately
low
frequency
words are
generally
ones that are viewed
as familiar
by
most adult
subjects,
and
many
of these words no doubt
could be
meaningfully
elaborated
by
most
subjects by considering
a
word's
meaning.
Rock
songs
that have been
popular
for a few
years
and are
recognized
as familiar are
unlikely
to have been
experienced
with
anywhere
near the
frequency
or in as
many
different contexts
as have words of
high linguistic frequency.
In
fact,
it is
improbable
that
any
musical selection will have been
experienced
as often as have
the most common words in the
English language.
Thus,
it is reasonable
to
suggest
that
meaningful
elaboration of familiar musical stimuli aids
frequency judgment accuracy
in a manner
analogous
to the
way
that
meaningful analysis
aids
recognition memory
and
frequency
estima-
tion of verbal stimuli.2
46
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
The other
major
results of the
present study
also can be
interpreted
as evidence that
meaningful processing
aids
memory
for
frequency.
In both
experiments, subjects
who exhibited
greater knowledge
of
the
to-be-judged
stimuli also showed
greater accuracy
in
judging
event
frequency.
This
relationship
between domain
expertise
and
ability
to
remember
frequency
was
present only
when stimuli were familiar and
only
under intentional
learning
instructions. In other
words,
knowl-
edge
of the
meaningful aspects
of the stimuli was related to
memory
for event
frequency only
when the stimuli whose
meaning
was known
were
judged,
and
only
when
meaningful
elaboration was
likely
to be
elicited
(e.g.,
when intentional rather than incidental
learning
instruc-
tions were
used).
Ability
to
judge
musical
excerpts
as new
(i.e., having
a situational
frequency
of
zero)
was not affected
by any
of the
experimental
or
individual differences variables. Similar
very
low false alarm rates have
been found in
previous
research
using
verbal stimuli
(Underwood,
Zimmerman,
&
Freund,
1971).
It is
likely
that
recognition
of an item
as one that has not been
experienced previously
can be made on the
basis of information that differs from that used to estimate the number
of times that a
repeated
event has been
experienced.
Recent inter-
pretations
of
recognition memory implicate
both a
familiarity process
and a retrieval
process (e.g.,
Mandler,
1980).
It is
possible
that the
decision that an event has not been
experienced
is made on the basis
of a basic
familiarity process
that reflects the well-known
ability
of
subjects
to discriminate situational
frequency
of occurrence
(e.g.,
Un-
derwood &
Freund,
1970).
However,
because the
present
results,
and
others
reported
in the
literature,
indicate that
judgments
of the num-
ber of times an event has been
experienced
are aided
by meaningful
processing,
it seems reasonable to
suggest
that
memory
for event
frequency
is influenced
by
information other than that
by
which an
initial decision of
familiarity
is made
(see
also
Proctor,
1977).
Also,
meaningful processing may
enhance situational
frequency
in a manner
that
permits
more accurate discrimination on the basis of a
frequency
attribute. Both of these
arguments
have been made elsewhere when
verbal discrimination
learning
was examined as a function of
orienting
activity
and word
frequency (see
Ghatala, Levin,
&
Subkoviak, 1975;
Ghatala, Levin,
&
Wilder, 1975; Sebastian, Brookbank,
&
Zechmeister,
1979).
Nevertheless,
that
subjects
in
Experiment
2 of the
present
study
were found to make
relatively
accurate
frequency judgments
when distracted and when stimuli were unfamiliar
suggests
that if
memory
for
frequency always requires
a
meaningful analysis (as
Rowe,
1974,
appears
to
suggest),
then the
degree
of
meaningful analysis
required
is
minimal.
MEMORY FOR SONGS 47
Finally,
an
important
criterion often used
by
those
proposing
an
automatic
processing theory
for event
frequency
is that individual
differences should be minimal when
frequency judgment accuracy
is
assessed. The
present findings suggest
that
ability
to remember event
frequency
is more
likely
to be related to individual differences vari-
ables
(for example, degree
of
knowledge
of the to-be-remembered
stimuli)
when information other than that
automatically
derived is
available to aid
frequency
discrimination.
Notes
We
appreciate
the assistance in
testing participants
for
Experiment
1
of
Jerome
Blacken,
David
Gowman,
James
O'Connell,
and Brian Pals. Kristen
Klaaren tested
participants
and assisted in data
analysis. Experiment
2 is
based on a master's thesis submitted
by
the first author to
Loyola University
of
Chicago.
We also want to
acknowledge
the
helpful
comments made
by
James
W. Hall and
Nancy
A. Norton on a
preliminary
draft of this
paper.
Requests
for
offprints
should be sent to
Eugene
B.
Zechmeister,
Depart-
ment of
Psychology, Loyola University
of
Chicago,
6525 N. Sheridan
Rd.,
Chicago,
IL 60626. Received for
publication May
6, 1986;
revision received
September
6,
1986.
1. The term
intent,
as used in the incidental
learning
literature,
sometimes
refers to the set established in the instructions and sometimes to what
subjects
actually
intend to do
during
the
presentation
of the material. In this
paper
we use intent in terms of its
operational meaning,
that
is,
the set established
by
the
orienting
task. We assume that instructions
directing subjects
to
prepare
for a
frequency judgment
test establish a different intent to learn
than do instructions
directing subjects
to
prepare
for a
general memory
test
(usually interpreted by subjects
to mean a recall
test)
or than do instructions
not
directing subjects
to
prepare
for
any upcoming memory
test. Unfor-
tunately,
it is not
altogether
clear what
subjects actually
do when instructions
varying
intent are used. The literature is
replete
with
examples
of
subjects
not
acting
in accord with the instructions
(e.g., by preparing
for a
memory
test when no
memory
test was
mentioned).
The
practice
of
asking subjects
what
they
intended to do
during study
has not been
uniformly
used.
2. A reasonable extension of our
analogy
between verbal and musical
stimuli would be to consider the unfamiliar rock
songs
used in the
present
study
as similar to words of
very
low
frequency
or
nonwords,
and to
compare
our results obtained with familiar and unfamiliar rock
songs
with those
obtained
by
Rao
(1983)
with low
frequency
words and nonwords. As we
noted,
Rao did find a difference between
frequency
estimates
given
to low
frequency
words and
nonwords,
at least for items at
higher
levels of situa-
tional
frequency.
This difference is in the same direction as we found for
repeated
items when
frequency
estimates of familiar and unfamiliar rock
music were
compared.
Nevertheless,
there are numerous
procedural
differ-
48
FIDLER, ZECHMEISTER,
AND SHAUGHNESSY
ences between the two studies. For
example,
in contrast to the
present study,
Rao used a within-list
manipulation
of
linguistic frequency
and derived his
measures of relative
frequency judgment accuracy using
situational fre-
quency
estimates for both
nonrepeated (zero
situational
frequency)
and re-
peated
items.
Therefore,
until more
experiments investigating
the effect of
linguistic frequency
on
memory
for situational
frequency
are carried
out,
we hesitate to include additional
comparisons
that would make our
analogy
appear
more tenuous than it
obviously
is now.
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