Isolation effect: Overall list facilitation in short-term memory

Richard S. Cimbalo, Rosemary A. Capria, Linda L. Neider, Mary Ann C. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The classical literature argued that when attention-getting items are placed in the middle of a to-be-learned list of items, the enhanced performance on the isolate is obtained at the expense of the other list items. Three experiments are presented which are not consistent with this tradeoff formulation and argue rather for an improvement in overall list performance. It is argued that this effect: (a) seems related to serial memory tasks wherein a repetition strategy is employed, (b) requires that the isolated item be centrally located in the list, and (c) is facilitated by a simultaneous presentation of list items.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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