AS Psychology Memory: Multi Store Model (MSM)

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The Multi Store Model (MSM) of memory was proposed by Attkinson & Shiffrin.

It comprises of 3 main stores. Below, details are listed on each store, as well as how information is transferred between the stores. Any relevant key studies are indicated with these brackes [ ] and listed directly after the passage of text.

1) Sensory Memory: This is the first store in the model. External stimuli from the environment around us enters sensory memory, which has a large capacity, but brief duration (0.2 - 2 seconds). Information in the sensory memory is unencoded. Information is lost in the sensory memory through decay.

If we pay attention to stimuli that has entered out sensory memory, it can be re-coded into the next store:

2) Short Term Memory (STM): The STM is the second store. It has a capacity of approximately 7 (+/- 2) 'chunks' of information [Key study: MILLER] and a somewhat brief duration of about 30 seconds [Key study: Peterson & Peterson]. Information in STM is encoded acoustically and visually [Key study: Baddeley]. Information is lost in STM through decay and displacement.

Key studies relating to STM:

  • Miller: Miller found that after participants heard digits read aloud, they could recall approximately 7 of those digits, leading him to believe this was the capacity for STM. His idea of 'chunking' means that he did not say we could remember 7 'words' or 7 'numbers', but 7 pieces of information, such as 7 short sentences for example, as the information has been chunked.
  • Peterson & Peterson: They did a study which aimed to test how long STM lasts when rehearsal is prevented. Participants were shown constant trigrams (just 3 randomly organised letters e.g. HYS) and whilst being shown these trigrams, were asked to count backwards in threes from a certain number in (e.g. from 250: 250, 247, 244, 241 etc...) The idea of counting backwards had the aim of preventing maintenance rehearsal*. They found that as the time between seeing the trigram and recall increased, the ability…


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