Science Fair Project:

Evaluating the Ranschburg Effect

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Research Question:

  • Is the Ranschburg Effect more prevalent in older or younger adults?

When items are listed in a short sequence, people tend to have poorer recall when some of the items are repeated. In this experiment, students will evaluate whether this phenomenon, or the Ranschburg Effect, is more prevalent in older or younger adults.

Materials:

  • Test subjects
  • Computer
  • Stop watch
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Notebook for recording results

Experimental Procedure

  1. Recruit approximately forty participants. You will need twenty young adults (18-30) and twenty older adults (55-70). Include an equal number of men and women in each group.
  2. Compose a list of ten different everyday items.
  3. Compose another list of ten everyday items where three of the items are repeated twice within the list.
  4. Read the first list (with ten different items) aloud to ten test subjects (five men and five women) in the young adult group and ten test subjects (five men and five women) in the older adult group.
  5. After ten minutes, ask the test subjects to write down all of the items that they can remember from the list.
  6. Read the second list (with some repeated items) aloud to the remaining ten test subjects (five men and five women) in the young adult group and the remaining ten test subjects (five men and five women) in the older adult group.
  7. After ten minutes, ask the test subjects to write down all of the items that they can remember from the list.
  8. Analyze your results. Compare the test results between both groups of younger adults. Now compare the test results between both groups of older adults. Do you observe the Ranschburg Effect taking place in either group of participants? Does the Ranschburg Effect occur more frequently in the older adults?

Terms/Concepts: Ranschburg Effect

Reference: “The Ranschburg Effect: The Role of Guessing Strategies,” by R. Greene, PubMed.gov, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1861617.

Author: Megan Doyle
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