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Psychology

Study Notes

Capacity

Level:
AS, A Level
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

‘Capacity’ refers to the maximum amount of information that can be retained in memory.

Short-Term Memory (STM)

Miller’s famous 1956 publication reviewing STM research - “The Magical Number Seven” - concluded that adult STM capacity averages around 7 (plus or minus two) items.

He put forward that this capacity can be increased through ‘chunking’ - converting a string of items into a number of larger, more memorable ‘chunks’ (e.g. number 343565787 to 343 565 787), thus increasing capacity to an average of 7 ‘chunks’.

Long-Term Memory (LTM)

Long-Term Memory is assumed to have an unlimited capacity, as no research has been able to measure a finite number to date (plus, it would be very difficult to).

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