Categorisation in Long-Term Memory

Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) designed the multi-store model of memory suggesting that we have three different memory stores and that information must be rehearsed and encoded to move through each stage, the long-term memory having the largest capacity and where memory is coded semantically. This supports that there is in fact a short-term memory and a long-term memory. The study I have chosen is based on memory from the cognitive approach to psychology.

Content that is stored in our long-term memory should be well arranged so that it can be retrieved easily. Without organising material, information in the brain would be less accessible to recall. Items in the long-term memory must be grouped together according to their meanings or recovering that information would be very difficult. Support for this are in the paragraphs below. Studies which involve free recall allow participants to recall material in any order they wish.

By doing this you can see how much material is actually grouped by its meaning in the long-term memory. Bower et al (1969) showed 2 groups a list of the same 112 words. The first group had the words organised in a hierarchy and were able to remember 65% of the words listed. The second group had the words listed randomly and thus was only able to recall 18% of the words. This implies that the long-term memory stores information by organisation as well as categorisation and that people will remember more information if the information organised.

Bousfield (1953) gave participants 60 words to study; they consisted of 15 names, 15 animals, 15 professions and 15 vegetables. The participants were asked to recall as many words as possible. The participants remembered the words in clusters according to their category. This suggests that there must be some kind of semantic organisation in the long-term memory that helps improve recall.


Bousfield W.A., (1953), the occurrence of clustering in the recall of randomly arranged associates. Journal of general psychology, 49,229-40 in introductory psychology by Malim and Birch.

Bower G.H., Clark M.C., Lesgold A.M. and Winzenz D., (1969) hierarchical retrieval schemes in recall of categorised word lists. Journal of verbal learning and verbal behaviour,8 , 323-43 in introductory to psychology by Malim and Birch.

Some psychologists believe that we simply rehearse things and that is how we remember. By rehearsing it leaves our short-term memory and enters our long-term memory. This does not explain why we forget things or why certain things help us …

After reading over the studies of Peterson and Peterson, and Glanzer and Cunitz, this investigation has been based around the subject of distracters and interferences with short-term memory. The aim of determining whether the use of a distracter affects short-term …

A table to show the results of all the groups, including variations of our method. Discussion The descriptive statistics would suggest that the self generation increased recall ability. The experimental hypothesis was accepted. The results were very significant when tested which would …

The experiment contained within this coursework is a replication of the experiment conducted by Bower et al (1969). Subjects were recruited by the experimentors and asked to take part in a psychological study. They were given standardised instructions, stimuli and …

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