Nature of Memory - AQA

Detailed Infomation regarding 'Nature of Memory';

  • Exam Board; AQA
  • Unit; PSYA1
  • Words; 731

This document contains information about the nature of memory; the information includes the following topics;

  • · Long and Short Term Memory – Coding / Capacity / Duration
  • · Studies and Support Evidence
  • · Evaluation of studies and supporting evidence

The information is colour coded in order for quick identification of material;

  • Black – General Information
  • Blue – Study Information
  • Green – Positive Evaluation
  • Red – Negative Evaluation

Other documents dealing with memory;

(1) Nature of Memory -

(2) Multi Store Model -



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James Alberts
Nature of Memory
Two types of memory ­ Short term and long term
Differences between the two;
Short Term Memory Long Term Memory
Duration Up to 18 seconds From minutes to a lifetime
Capacity 5-9 Chunks 7+/- 2 Limitless
Type of encoding Acoustic (sounds) Semantic (meaning)
Short Term Memory;
Conrad (1964) demonstrated that acoustic STM coding, finding rhyming letters were harder to recall
than non-rhyming letters Due to acoustic confusion errors
Acoustic code not always used; one study found that participants used visual coding in ATM if they
were given pictures and prevented from doing verbal rehearsal by saying lalala
Test by measuring immediate digit span
A list of random digits is read out to participants and they have to repeat them straight back in the
correct order the sequence length at which they are correct 50% of the time is the digit span
Miller (1956) claimed that this was 5-9 items for lists of digits, letters or larger chunks of
Chunking occurs when we combine individual letters into larger meaningful unit.
Peterson & Peterson (1959) used trigram experiment. They asked participants to remember a single
nonsense syllable of 3 consonants for example (KPD)
Participants were then given a task to stop them rehearsing ( Counting down in threes from a high
Participants were asked to recall different trigrams after different time periods of 3 seconds each
3 seconds 80% remembered
After 18 seconds 10% remembered
Evaluation of Short Term Memory Research;
Huge strength of lab based research is high control of variables
Using strings of consonants in a lab are not like we do in real life, the research may lack ecological
validity, as in real life we remember events and meaningful information, thus not telling us anything
useful about the nature of memory
For example research into flashbulb memory has shown that memories can be lot more accurate
when emotion is involved than in artificial lab based studies would suggest.
Long Term Memory;
Baddeley (1966) gave participants lists of wards to remember
Found that when recall was tested after 20 minutes recall of lists containing words of similar
meaning were more difficult to recall then words of non-similar meaning

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However like STM it is possible we use more than one type of coding, words like sunset are
concrete and east to visualise and may use a visual code, whereas words like clever, guilty are more
abstract and need to be coded semantically
Enormous but impossible to measure
Bahrick (1975) Used an opportunity sample of 392 American ex-high school students age of 17-74
Tested in many ways;
1. Free recall of the names of former classmates as possible
2.…read more


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