Duration of memory

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Outline and evaluate research into duration of memory (12 marks)


 Duration of memory is how long memory last for before it is displaced or decayed. One study that researched the duration of short term memory is Peterson and Peterson 1959. there were 24 students tested over eight trials. Each trial the pareticipants were given a three digit number and 3 letters (nonsense trigram). They were asked to recall the nonsence trigram every 3,6,9,12,15 and 18 seonds . buring this time they has to count back from the number they were given to preven rehersal. the results showed that with after 3 seconds 90% of participants were correct, after 9 seconds 20% were correct and after 18 seconds 2% were correct. this shows short term memory last for about 20 seconds.


This study lacks ecological validity because the stimulus material is artifical. therefore trying to memorise 3 constant syllables does not fully reflect everyday life like remebering something that is meaning full. This suggest that the study also lacks mumdane realism. HOwever we do remebver some meaningless numbers and letters such as phone numbers, so the study does have some relevance to everyday life.

One problem with this study is the findings may be explained by displacment rather than material only last for a certain time (decay). the participants were counting down from the number in their short term memory which could caused the syllables to be displaced not decayed. one study teitman used tone instead of numbers so the syllables did not get displaced and she found that mamory lasted longer than what petersons study did. this suggest petersons study was lilkley to be due


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