serial reproduction

Quick Reference

A technique for studying memory in a social context, popularized by the English psychologist Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett (1886–1969) in his book Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology (1932, Chapters 7–8) and usually attributed to him, but in fact introduced by the US psychologist Ernest Norton Henderson (1869–1967) in an article in the journal Psychological Review in 1903, surprisingly not cited by Bartlett. It involves a person reading a short story (typically about 100 words long) and recounting it from memory to a second person, who then recounts it from memory to a third, and so on in the manner of the children's game of Chinese whispers, the phenomena of assimilation (5), levelling (1), and sharpening becoming obvious after about eight transmissions. The technique has been used as a laboratory model of rumour transmission. In some studies, the original stimulus is a drawing that is serially reproduced from memory by each of the participants or subjects in turn. See also War of the Ghosts. Compare successive reproduction.

Subjects: Psychology.

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