Subjects were presented a page of words containing either two or four words per line. A single word (target) on each line was to be learned. Results showed that, as in an earlier experiment (Perlmuter & Monty, 1982), directing attention to background words by allowing subjects to choose the target words enhanced the learning of background and target items. Moreover, when subjects were permitted to select their targets by rejecting those that they did not wish to learn, overall performance was even better than when choice was permitted. Thus, the earlier observations of the interrelatedness of target and background learning were extended and show that such joint learning can be greatly enhanced by giving the subject the opportunity to choose or reject target words. Possible reasons for these observations were discussed.
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