To test if preventing the rehearsal loop by an interference task reduces the number of words recalled from a list, hence a wider aim is testing the existence of short-term memory.
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Psychology coursework Introduction Background The multi-store model of memory is concerned with the cognitive area of psychology. It suggests that memory is dived up into different stores, sensory, short term and long-term; it was identified by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968). The short-term memory is believed to be able to hold about seven "bits" or chunks of information for about 20 seconds without rehearsal. This information will move into the long-term memory if the information is repeated or rehearsed. In the diagram above it demonstrates how the rehearsal loop will send the information back around into the short term memory this will eventually go on into the long term memory. Glazner and Cunitz (1966) were interested and studied the primacy-recency effect. They also wondered if it made sense to consider the short and long term memory as two different stores. They then conducted experiments to see if they could independently manipulate the short and long-term memory. They conducted experiments of free recall with a list of words this lead them to the primacy and recency effect and the serial position curve (a U shaped graph) which shows how people tend to remember more words from the beginning and end of a list. The primacy effect is remembering the early words in the list; this is because they have had time for rehearsal, and the recency effect is remembering words from later in the list because they have remained in the short-term memory. They then altered their experiment and introduced an interference task designed to prevent the participant from rehearsing and therefore preventing words being stored in the short-term memory. There have been many developments on this research but a particularly profound discovery was by Murdock (1961) he found that the number of words a participant recalled could be increased by chunking the letters into groups of three he called these "trigrams". Rationale In the experiment the rationale was to replicate the study by Glanzer and Cunitz (1966)
* For each group the same reader read 1 word per second for 30 seconds in order to ensure both group have an equal amount of time to remember words. * Both groups had 40 seconds for free recall to ensure both group have the same length of time to recall words. * Same list of words was read in same order in order to ensure experimental validity. * Conducted within 5 minutes of each other to prevent one group from having the disadvantage of being more tired or less alert. * Conducted under same weather conditions to ensure both groups' moods are not affected by the weather * Reader read the word list from the same position in the room to ensure the readers voice is projected around the room in the same way for both groups * Reader attempted to read the word list at the same volume and clearly to prevent the chance of misunderstanding a word that was read out. The reason that the above controls were used was to try and increase the accuracy of the results and to eliminate extraneous and confounding variables. Results Summary table Words recalled and position they occurred in the list that was read out Position of word in list Word Number of participants from group A that recalled this word Number of participants from group B that recalled this word Third in which the words occur 1 Light 11 8 1st third 2 Door 7 4 3 Tree 3 6 4 Frame 5 5 5 Watch 2 1 6 Blazer 2 1 7 Radio 1 0 8 Stone 2 1 9 Trolley 1 1 10 Pigtail 2 4 Total = 36 Total = 31 11 Paper 0 0 2nd third 12 Water 1 1 13 Loaf 2 1 14 Coach 1 3 15 Potato 5 3 16 Busstop 1 3 17 Trainer 6 1 18 Road 1 2 19 Curtain 3 3 20 Football 3 2 Total = 23 Total = 19 21
used were useful and prevented confounding and extraneous variables Improving Reliability However the methodology of selecting the matched pairs sample may mean that the results may not be the same if it was conducted again. The experiment is not very difficult to replicate but the major problems would lie in the reading of the words so ideally it would have been better to create a pre-recorded tape of the words being read out this would prevent errors arising here and would make replicating the study easier. Implications of study The results of the study (like Glazner and Cunitz (1966) found as evidence for short term and long term memory) reflected the hypothesis in that it implies that after being told some information and then given a task to interfere with the rehearsal loop than fewer words will be remembered from the end of the list. The reason fewer words were remember from the end of the list was because of the primacy recency effect which suggested that if an interference task is introduced then the recency effect would be destroyed. Generalisation of findings Because the study was conducted on a 6th form group of psychology students using an opportunity sample and the sample size was pretty small (22 people) this greatly prevents from generalising from the results of the experiment. Also the fact it was conducted in a very short time in a small area that again means generalisation would not be possible. Application of findings In real life this study has a lot of practical uses. A good place in which it could be relevant is in advertising. For example if a company is trying to advertise their product they will want their name to be remembered and therefore all the important information at the beginning and end of the advertisement to ensure that the vital information is remembered and in this way they will improve the effectiveness of advertisement. Appendix Word list Then the reader reads the following words to the participants.
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