Multi-lab direct replication of Flavell, Beach and Chinsky (1966): Spontaneous verbal rehearsal in a memory task as a function of age


Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science


April, 2021


E.M. Elliott, C.C. Morey, A.M. AuBuchon, N. Cowan, C. Jarrold, E. Adams, M. Attwood, B. Bayram, S. Beeler-Duden, T.Y. Blakstvedt, G. Büttner, T. Castelain, S. Cave, Crepaldi, D., E. Fredriksen, B. Glass, A. Graves, D. Guitard, S. Hoehl, A. Hosch, S. Jeanneret, T.N. Joseph, C. Koch, J.R. Lelonkiewicz, G. Lupyan, A. McDonald, G. Meissner, W. Mendenhall, D. Moreau, T. Ostermann, T. Özdoru, F. Padovani, S. Poloczek, J.P. Röer, C. Schonberg, C.K. Tamnes, M.J. Tomasik, B. Valentini, E. Vergauwe, H. Vlach, and M. Voracek

Work by Flavell, Beach, and Chinsky (1966) indicated a change in the spontaneous production of overt verbalization behaviors when comparing young children (age 5) to older children (age 10). Despite the critical role that this evidence of a change in verbalization behaviors plays in modern theories of cognitive development and working memory, there has only been one other published near-replication of this work (Keeney, Cannizzo, & Flavell, 1967). This Registered Replication Report relied upon 17 labs who contributed their results to a larger and more comprehensive sample of children. We assessed memory performance and the presence or absence of verbalization behaviors of young children at different ages, and determined that the original pattern of findings was largely upheld: older children were more likely to verbalize, and their memory spans improved. We confirmed that 5- and 6-year-old children who verbalized recalled more than children who did not verbalize. However, unlike Flavell et al., substantial proportions of our 5- and 6-year-old samples overtly verbalized at least sometimes during the picture memory task. Also, continuous increase in overt verbalization from 7- to 10-years-old was not consistently evident in our samples. These robust findings should be weighed when considering theories of cognitive development, particularly theories concerning when verbal rehearsal emerges and relations between speech and memory.

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