The multi-store model(created by Atkinson and Shiffrin) is a model for the structure of memory. It says that we have three separate memory stores; sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory.

Information is firstly passed to our sensory memory;

§  Capacity of all sensory experiences.

§  Duration of a quarter of a second for visual and 4 seconds for auditory.

§  Encodes all sense-specific information

Once we pay attention to it, the information is passed to our short-term memory;

§  Capacity of 7(+-2) chunks of information.

§  Duration of 18-30 seconds.

§  Encodes information acoustically.

If we then rehearse the information, it is passed to our long-term memory;

§  Capacity is unlimited.

§  Duration is unlimited.

§  Encodes information semantically.


Aim- To investigate coding in STM and LTM.

Method- Participants were given three groups of words to memorise

§  A list of acoustically similar words.

§  A list of semantically similar words.

§  A list of unrelated words.

Participants were either asked to recall the words immediately or after 20 minutes.

Results- When participants recalled the words immediately, they made the most mistakes with the acoustically similar words. Whereas when recalled after 20 minutes, they made the most mistakes with the semantically similar words.

Conclusion- Information in STM is encoded acoustically and information in LTM is encoded semantically.


§  New information has taught us that STM also encodes information visually aswell as acoustically so over simplified.

§  Low ecological validity as the experiment is artificial and has highly controlled conditions so results cannot be generalised.


Evaluation of the multi-store model


§  The model states that in order to transfer information into LTM, we need to rehearse it. However, anecdotal evidence shows us that this is not always the case, therefore the levels of processing theory explains it better.

§  The model is oversimplified, not only do we know this because of the working memory model but also because of the case of KF who suffered brain damaged which caused problems with his STM. However although his memory for acoustic information was poor, his memory for visual information was fine, suggesting that STM is more than just one store.

§  The studies used to support the multi-store model lack ecological validity so cannot tell us how memory works in every-day situations.


§  The model proposes the idea of a separate short-term memory and long term memory, the primacy-recency effect supports this;

Primacy effect- Better recall of words from the beginning of a list as they have been rehearsed and transferred into LTM.

Recency effect- Better recall of words from the end of a list as they are still fresh in our STM.

§  The case of HM also proposes the idea of a separate STM and LTM as surgery left him with a


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