Relating sensation seeking and the von Restorff isolation effect
Sensation seeking was examined in a short-term memory task involving the serial recall of a 10-item list of consonants with (isolated) and without (non-isolated) a distinctively larger item in the fifth position. 126 students were given the Sensation Seeking Scale Form-V and 32 10-item lists to memorize in a 1 by 3 mixed design. Sensation seeking was a between-subject factor and Blocks (Trials 1-16 and 17-32), Isolation (isolated and nonisolated), and Duration (2 sec. and 10 sec.) were within-subject factors. Generally nonisolated lists and the larger letters (the von Restorff Isolation Effect) were better recalled, with the latter being stronger at the shorter duration. Only the high sensation-seeking group showed a Blocks effect for lists with an isolated item such that there was a greater number of items correct per list in Block 1 than in Block 2. This finding is consistent with the argument that higher scores on sensation seeking are associated with greater cortical arousal and better memory for newness and change. Students with high sensation-seeking scores showed superior memory for the isolated list when it contained an isolate if allowed more processing time. It is argued that high sensation-seeking scores were associated with more effective transfer of items from shorter to longer-term memory. A rapid nontime-dependent perceptual process was used to explain the isolation effect. The poorer overall list performance for the lists with the isolate was explained in terms of the intense nature of the isolate.
Cimbalo, Richard S.; Clark, Douglas; and Matayev, Aleksandr I., "Relating sensation seeking and the von Restorff isolation effect" (2003). Articles & Book Chapters. 390.