Outline and Evaluate Research Into the Duration, Capacity, and Encoding of Information in Short-Term Memory

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“Outline and evaluate research into the duration, capacity, and encoding of information in short-term memory.” (12 Marks) Memory can be split into three different categories; sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory. They all differ in three main ways, which are the duration, capacity, and the encoding of them. Short term has three key aspects. It has a limited capacity, limited duration and acoustically encoded. In short term memory, there is a limited capacity of much information can be held. Long term memory has an unlimited capacity however; the average capacity of short term memory is 7 items at a time. In 1956, Miller proposed that we could hold about 7 items in our short term memory but there is also a range of capacity of five to nine items which is why his article is known as ‘The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two’. Miller conducted an experiment in which participants were given ‘sentences; varying in lengths. They were asked to recall words in the correct order given in the sentence. The more sense the sentence made (in grammar) the easier it was to recall. It implied that semantic meaning and grammatical structure is used to help increase amount of information stored in short term memory by combining items to create larger chunks. Participants were able to recall 7 pieces of information. The research suggests that capacity of short term memory could only be enlarged by grouping items together known as chunking. By chunking information, we are more likely able to remember it whether in single or combined forms which is why it’s known as the magical number seven plus or minus two. However, the experiment could also be criticised in the sense that there could have been experimenter bias and demand characteristics. It also isn’t ecologically valid since people don’t have to memorise random letter and numbers all the time. Nevertheless,
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