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Testing is an effective memory tool
By Marissa Cevallos
Quick—learn these Swahili words:Wingu means cloud, a lulu is a pearl andzabibu means grape.
Covering up the words and quizzingyourself is a better learning strategy thanrepeatedly reading the words,Oct. 15 Science. Self-testingreinforces the association bycreating key words as cluesfor retrieving the word pairslater on.
Scholars have long knownthe value of self-quizzing: Exercise inrepeatedly recalling a thing strengthensthe memory, Aristotle wrote more than
2,000 years ago. But psychologists aren’tsure why.
Mary Pyc and Katherine Rawson of
Kent State University in Ohio hypoth-
esized that when studying, say, a foreign
language, students invent key words to
help trigger the right word. To remem-
ber that wingu is a cloud, for example, a
student might use the word wing to think
of a bird flying in the clouds.
The researchers asked 118 college stu-dents to study 48 pairs of Swahili and Eng-lish words. Then about half of the studentsreviewed the words side by side, and halfwere quizzed by being shown one wordand asked to recall its part-ner. Both groups were askedwhat mediator — a key word,phrase or concept — they usedto link the words.
When students were testedone week later, those who hadtaken the practice quizzesperformed better than those who hadn’t.The grades were especially disparate ifresearchers asked the students to recalltheir mediators just before the exam. Inthat case, students who had been quizzedremembered their mediators 51 percentof the time. Students in the unquizzedgroup remembered their mediators only34 percent of the time.
“Mediators are playing a role we didn’t
realize was important before,” says Nate
Kornell, a psychologist at Williams Col-
lege in Williamstown, Mass.
Getting to know
you less and less
Long-term couples ignorant
of each other’s likes, dislikes
Benjamin Scheibehenne and Jutta Mata,working with psychologist Peter Toddof Indiana University in Bloomington,observed this counterintuitive patternin 38 young couples aged 19 to 32, and 20older couples aged 62 to 78. The great-est gap in partner knowledge was in foodpreferences, an area with particular rel-evance to daily life, the scientists reportin a paper to appear in the Journal ofConsumer Psychology.
On average, members of youngercouples accurately predicted a part-ner’s food preference 47 percent of thetime, versus 40 percent for members ofolder couples. A comparable disparityemerged for movies and kitchen designs.
Declines in older couples’ knowledgepartly reflect a tendency by partners to
By Bruce Bower
BASEL, S witzerland — Long-lasting mar-riages may thrive on love, compromiseand increasing ignorance about oneanother. Couples married for an averageof 40 years know less about one another’sfood, movie and kitchen-design prefer-ences than do partners who have beenmarried or in committed relationshipsfor a year or two, a new study finds.
Two University of Basel psychologists,
pay less attention to one another because
they view their relationship as firmly
committed or assume that they have
little left to learn about each other, the
researchers propose. Consistent with
that hypothesis, long-term partners in
the new study expressed more overcon-
fidence in their knowledge about each
others’ preferences than people in short