Semantic Processing, Writing Modality, and the Generation Effect

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University of New Brunswick


The phenomenon in which words generated from one’s own mind are better remembered than read material is known as the generation effect. Semantic processing is necessary for the effect to occur. The present thesis was aimed at elucidating whether handwriting would facilitate semantic processing during self-generation, and result in better memory for generated material. A total of 48 psychology students from the University of New Brunswick Saint John participated in each of two experiments, consisting of reading and generation tasks, completed by typing (laptop, tablet) or handwriting (active, passive). It was hypothesized that a generation effect would emerge when the information was handwritten; a negative generation effect was anticipated when generation tasks were typed. Two repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) were conducted for each experiment. A negative generation effect was observed in both experiments; cross- experiment analyses revealed that the magnitude of the negative effect was significantly larger for typed information.