• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent has psychology revealed the nature of memory?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent has psychology revealed the nature of memory? The extent that psychological research has revealed the nature of memory can be shown in through research and studies into different aspects of different types of memory. Research has mostly looked into the encoding, storage and duration of short-term and long-term memory. Jacobs (1887) did research into the capacity of short-term memory with the aim to investigate how much information can be held int he short-term memory. To do this, he devised a technique called the "serial digit span", which involved strings of digits which had to be recalled in the order in which they were given. He conducted a laboratory experiment in which participants were given these strings of number and asked to recall them in order, with the strings starting with 3 digits and increasing until the participant consistently failed to correctly reproduce the findings. He found that the average length of string remembered was between 5 and 9 items, with digits being recalled better than letters. Individual differences such as age affected the average amount of items correctly recalled, thus the conclusion that the short-term memory's capacity was 7�2 (between 5 and 9) digits. This research, however, found that other factors could affect the length of the string remembered, such as memory techniques like "chunking". ...read more.


Murdock (1962) tested the effects of primacy and recency in free-recall of a list of words, and found that the first and last words on a list of 20 words were remembered more than the words in the middle. He concluded that this is because the words at the start of a list can be rehearsed whilst the others are being read out, and the ones at the end can be remembered because they are fresh in the mind, and can be rehearsed after the word list has been read out, but the words in the middle are often forgotten because there is no chance of rehearsal for them. This supports the assumption that rehearsal increases the recall rate of words. As with the studies into capacity of the short-term memory, Peterson and Peterson (1959) and Murdock's (1962) studies into its duration were laboratory experiments which entailed tasks which were very unlikely to occur in day-to-day life, so they lack ecological validity. As a consequence, the results cannot be generalised, though the experiments do give us an insight into the duration of short-term memory. Another criticism is that Peterson and Peterson's (1959) study was carried out only on students, which is a biased sample resulting in lack of population validity. However, the research carried out by Peterson and Peterson (1959) ...read more.


Also, there are other types of encoding which were not tested in this experiment, such as visual encoding � for example, research by Brandimonte et al. (1992) supports the theory that some memories are encoded visually. This research consisted of participants being shown six-line drawings of familiar objects, and then they were asked to visualise the object and subtract a part of it and name the resulting image. Some were asked to do this whilst repeating a meaningless chant (disabling the use of acoustic encoding), and results from the investigation show that if acoustic encoding is prevented, visual encoding can be substituted in short-term memory. This contradicts Conrad's (1964) conclusion that encoding in short-term memory is all acoustic, instead suggesting that it is primarily acoustic, and other forms of encoding exist in the short-term memory. It can therefore be concluded that research into memory has revealed its nature to a considerable extent, but there is still a large amount left undiscovered. Many theories about different aspects of memory have gone a long way to help psychologists understand it and its processes, such as the encoding, capacity and duration of short-term memory. The capacity of long-term memory, for example, remains unknown as it is seemingly so vast, and many other features of both types of memory remain undiscovered. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Cognitive Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Cognitive Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and evaluate nature of short term memory using studies e.g. capacity, duration and ...

    3 star(s)

    Findings of this study were that: participants were able to recall 80% of trigrams after a 3 second interval with progressively fewer trigrams recalled as the time intervals lengthened. After 18 seconds, fewer than 10% of the trigrams were recalled correctly.


    The experimenter for each group would read them out. This list included words that sounded the same and has similar meanings. The 10 words were; log, fast, dog, sign, lip, teeth, last, hip, line, sweet. (See appendix 4). 20 consent forms were needed as participants had to give their consent before participating.

  1. Categorisation in Long-Term Memory

    The participants were aware they were taking part in a psychology experiment so the results could have been affected by demand characteristics. Suggestions for improving validity Participants were aware they were talking part in a psychology experiment which could have created demand characteristics and possible experimenter bias.

  2. Memory: Rote Rehearsal and Mental Imagery.

    This could be overcome by changing the distracter task, possibly involving a letter based task as opposed to a number based task. Two participants commented that they felt uncomfortable about their results (despite being told the experiment was to test a theory, not the participant's memory and that all information

  1. Investigating the short-term memory

    These will also be recorded. This investigation will add to the ones conducted already as this should give evidence for Baddeley's research. This showed that short-term memory used acoustic memory, which meant that the recall of the word was due to its sound. This should also add to evidence supporting the Atkinson & Shiffrin theory

  2. "An experiment to see the effect of chunking on short-term memory recall".

    The participants were told at the beginning to the experiment what we were testing so that they had some knowledge of the experiment however they will not be told a lot of information because then the experiment will loose its validity.

  1. The Effects of Chunking and Distraction on Short Term Memory Recall

    the maximum score it was possible to gain in each condition was 90. A full list of the chunks used can be observed in Appendix One. Each list was presented visually for a total of 15 timed seconds. The order of presentation of these lists was also counterbalanced to avoid the possibility of presentation effects.

  2. effects of chunking and unchunking on short term memory

    Looking at research mainly by Jacobs (1887) and Miller (1956) the following hypotheses have been drawn up. Alternate Hypothesis Significantly more digits will be recalled accurately in sequence in the chunked condition than in the un-chunked condition. Null Hypothesis There is no difference in the number of digits recalled in the chunked or un-chunked condition.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work