Psychology-Cognitive Psychology

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Cognitive Psychology

Encoding: Made sense of.

Capacity: How much information is stored.

Duration: How long information is stored.

The sensory store

Sperling (1960)

  • Participants saw a grid of digits and letters for 50 milliseconds.
  • They were either asked to recall and write down all 12 items or told they would hear a tone immediately afterwards and they should write the row that the tone corresponded with.
  • Recall was poorer when asked to recall the whole thing (42%)
  • Recall was higher when asked to recall one row (75%)

Short term memory


Joseph Jacobs (1887)

  • Used digit span and found that the average span for digits was 9.3 where as for letters it was 7.3
  • He suggested that it may be easier to recall numbers because there are only 9 digits where as there are 26 letters.

George Miller (1956)

  • The span of immediate memory is 7. People Can cope with remembering 7 dots flashing on the screen but tend to have difficulty remembering more than 7.
  • The magic number +7 and -2

A way of increasing memory is through a method of called chunking, this means chunking things into things that you remember more easily.


=> Duration refers to how long the information can be held.

=> The duration of STM isn't very long.

Llyod and Margret Peterson (1959)

  • 24 students.
  • experimenter said a consonant syllable followed by a 3 digits number.
  • They had to count backwards from the number in 3's or 4's until told to stop.
  • They were then asked to recall the constant syllable.
  • counting backwards was to stop the participant rehearsing.
  • Participants remembered about 90% when there was only a 3 second interval.
  • only recalled 2% when there was an 18 second interval.


Conrad (1964) suggested that STM codes all information acoustically (according to sound)

  • Participants were given a list of consonants. for example: PJNRZD for about 3/4 of a second.
  • Asked to recall what they had seen.
  • They found that errors were linking to letters which has a similar sound.
  • This is referred to as acoustic confusion.

Long Term Memory


=> LTM refers to memories that last any where between 2 hours and 100 years

Bahrick et el (1975)

  • Asked people of various ages to put names to the faces in their high school year book.
  • People had 70% accurate recall.
  • This may be because the information needed to be recalled was of more importance.


Baddeley (1960)

  • He tested the effects of acoustic and sematic similarity on STM and LTM recall.
  • Gave participants a list of words which were acoustically similar


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