Bartlett revisited: Direct comparison of repeated reproduction and serial reproduction techniques

Henry L. Roediger, Michelle L. Meade, David A. Gallo, Kristina R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Bartlett developed the procedures of repeated reproduction (the same person repeatedly recalling information) and serial reproduction (people transmitting information from one person to another). Our experiment directly compared recall accuracy across these two techniques, which has not previously been reported, using DRM word lists. Recall of the initial study list words remained constant across repeated reproductions but declined markedly across serial reproductions. In contrast, recall of associated words that were not originally studied (i.e. critical words) was steady across both conditions. Because more of the original list words were forgotten across each link of the serial reproduction chain, the proportion of critical items recalled (relative to list words) increased significantly as the list passed between people. Using output bound scoring, serial reproduction resulted in lower accuracy than repeated reproduction by the final recall trial. Our results are broadly consistent with Bartlett's (1932) informal observations: Serial reproduction produces greater forgetting of the original material than does repeated reproduction and also leads to greater distortion relative to the proportion of correct material recalled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-271
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • DRM paradigm
  • Errors of memory
  • F.C. Bartlett
  • Input-bound scoring
  • Output-bound scoring
  • Repeated reproduction
  • Serial reproduction


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