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Testing short term memory. Is Miller's seven chunks theory accurate?

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Investigating Perception Of The 7+/-2 Urban Myth During studies of cognitive psychology with special emphasis on memory, the access students were asked by the tutor to conduct an experiment on memory. In 1956 then a professor at Havard George A. Miller published a paper on The Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two which stated that the memory span of young adults was around seven elements(chunks) regardless whether they were digits, letters ,words etc. We therefore set out to challenge Miller's theory and find out indeed if it was true in the case of Gloucester College students. The hypothesis was developed by looking at similar experiments of the same nature that had been conducted previously ie the location involved and participants involved. We had to consider the method used if for example the choice of sample would affect the result in any way or the location of the experiment. Participants would on average be able to recall around five digits read out to them with a few variations on either end of the scale ie a few number of participants might be able to ...read more.


There were about 75 students participating and roughly about two to one as there were about 50 women and 25 men. The participants ranged in age from about twenty two to around forty five years with most participants in their twenties and early thirties. Materials used were a stimulus sheet and a pencil we got from the lecturer. There were ten lines with ten digits per line on the stimulus sheet, we did not need any other special equipment we had to use except to go of and look for a quiet environment without any disturbances. The procedure used was a standardised procedure in which two participants went to a quiet area and read out the digits to each other. The participants had to sit looking opposing ways and each participant read out all the numbers on one side of the stimulus sheet to each other once finished the other would do the same with a different set of digits and the last number correct was marked to give the score. ...read more.


These results obtained during his experiment mean that the so called urban myth still holds true up to this day and totally agree with the theory. In the case of English speaking respondents the results will mostly be predictable how ever in a different country which speaks a different language the result might not be the same therefore its worth noting the main language of the respondents as it might have a slight bearing on the outcome. In order to have an accurate result, the way the digits are counted should be strictly monitored and be consistent throughout as reading the digits slowly or in chunks of three makes it easier for participants to recall more digits. Improving the method in some way would not have that much of a bearing as i believe the final result would be more or less the same. There were no confounding variables encountered and no ethical issues raised during the experiment as most ethical considerations were dealt with before the experiment began ...read more.

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