Six groups of subjects, in a 2 by 3 design, performed orienting tasks during the presentation of a randomized list of nonadjacent associative pairs. Groups performed one of three tasks: rhyming, pleasantness rating, or “taking dictation” (control). On the other dimension, groups were told about the associative structure and its potential facilitation of recall at one of two times: before hearing the list, or after hearing it. All subjects were forewarned of the recall test. Amount of recall and associative clustering were significantly lower for the rhyming groups than for either the pleasantness rating groups or the control groups. No difference was obtained as a function of when groups were told about the associative structure. The nature of the orienting task appears to be far more important than intention to recall and knowledge about the list structure.
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