AS Psychology (Edexcel)- Cognitive approach

Summary of all studies, theories ect. in the Cognitive approach.

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Levels of processing approach (Craik & Lockhart 19


  • To test whether words that are processed for their meaning would be better remembered than words that were processed visually or by the sound it makes
  • Words processed by the sound it makes would be better remembered than words processed visually
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Levels of processing approach- Procedure


  • 20 students were individually given reading lists of 40 1-2-syllable words.
  • They were asked whether each word was written in capitals (structural), whether it rhymed with another word (phonetic) or whether it was part of a category or fitted into a sentence (semantic).
  • To control other factors affecting how memorable each word would be, the questions and words were all rotated so that participants each recieved a different combination.
  • At this point participants were unaware that the experiment was concerned with memory, so were not expecting to be tested.
  • Later they were tested fore either their recall of words (in which they were asked to remember as many of the words as possible) or recognition (in which they chose the words from a selection
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Levels of processing approach- Findings


  • In all the experiments participants remembered the words best that had been processed semantically.
  • In the first experiment 96% of the words that had been processed for whether they would fit into a sentence were recognised.
  • Memory was worst for words that had been processed strucurally, for example only 18% of words were recognised after they had been processed for capital letters.
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Levels of processing approach- Conclusion(s)


  • Depth of processing affects how well words are remembered.
  • Semantic processing, that is thinking about the meaning of the words leads to their being remembered best.
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Levels of processing approach- Strengths & Weaknes

Strengths of approach-

  • There is support from neuroscience for the idea that processing information semantically does involve more cognitive work than other forms of processing.
  • Has a number of practical applications ie.helping people to remember information easier by processing it more deeply.

Weaknesses of approach-

  • Other factors affect how words are remembered, independant of how deeply they are processed
  • Information that carries emotional significance could be more easliy  remembered or visa versa (Reber et al 1994)
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Ramponi et al (levels of processing sub-study)- Ai


  • To investigate the extent to which deep processing and age influence how well words are recalled under voluntary and involuntary conditions.
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Ramponi et al (levels of processing sub-study)- Pr

Procedure- (PPS=participants)

  • 48 adults with mean age 72 years and 48 students mean age 24 took part. The experimental design involved repeated & independant measures.
  • Each pps was shown prime words under each level of processing and with weak and strong associations between word pairs (Repeated measures). However, participants could only be in the older or younger groups (independant measures).
  • 6 lists of 28 words were shown to each pps under different LOP conditions.
  • In the structural task, pps had to say which word had more letters sticking up.
  • For the phonetic task they said which word had more syllables.
  • For semantic, they had to identify which word had a more pleasant meaning.
  • Recall was then tested under Intentional and involuntary conditions. In the intentional condition, pps were shown one word of each pair and asked to recall the associated word. In the involuntary condition they were asked to think of the first word came to mind in response to a word in each pair
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Ramponi et al (levels of processing sub-study)- Fi


  • As expected, semantic processing was better recalled in the intentional condition regardless whether the associations between the words were weak or strong
  • Similarly, younger people intentionally recalled more words than the older people regardless of the strength of association.
  • However, where the association between two words was strong and recall was involuntary, neither levels of processing nor age made any difference to the number of words recalled.
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Ramponi et al (levels of processing sub-study)- Co


  • The effect of levels of processing holds true under most conditionsbut there are exceptions. Where two words are strongly associated with one another, one word will trigger the involuntary recall of the other regardless of how they were processed at the time of learning.
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