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Stylistic Factors in Learning and Retention

McKenna, Virgil V.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute of Mental Health, Office of Naval Research, Cognitive Style, Factor Analysis, Memory, Personality, Psychological Studies, Retention (Psychology), Sex Differences


The purposes of this investigation were, first, to determine the extent of individual consistency in the tendencies to err either by omission or commission in tasks requiring learning and retention, and, secondly, to determine the relationship between any such consistent tendencies and relevant cognitive, personality, and ability variables. A battery of 26 tests from which 86 variables were generated was administered to 147 college students, 70 men and 77 women, by individual and group testing. Information concerning scholastic ability and achievement, as well as control measures of socioeconomic status and seating position in the testing room, were included in the analysis. In discussing the results, emphasis is placed upon strategies of future research designed to illuminate the role of situational and dispositional influences upon the obtained stylistic factors. Particular reference is made to the degree of relationship between omission and commission errors in a single test and to the relative importance of sex differences. It is also noted that distinct rote and meaningful memory factors did not emerge. The presence of an additional factor for retention of connected discourse is suggested. It is concluded that consistent styles of omission and com- mission do occur in tests of learning and retention. These styles appear to be related to important aspects of personality structure. The generality of such styles is restricted by the content and requirements of the tasks, in the present instance to span memory and memory for connected discourse.

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