Essay: Levels of processing in memory

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  • Subject area(s): Psychology essays
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  • Published on: December 27, 2019
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  • Levels of processing in memory
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The model put forward by Craik and Lockhart (1972) which showed the levels of processing in memory focuses on the processes involved in memory. They focused on two types of processing; shallow processing and deep processing. Both argued that memory is a processing continuum. They also proposed that different types of rehearsal lead to different types of processing. For example, shallow to deep processing. In order to prove their theory Craik and Lockhart carried out an experiment. I also took part in an experiment with the rest of my class which tested the effects of deep and shallow processing on memory. The Craik and the Tulving (1975) experiment which tests the level of processing theory also shows the effect of the processes.

The levels of processing experiment carried out by Craik and Lockhart (1972) asked a number of participants to recall as many words as they could from the experiment. Shallow processing uses shorter lasting memory and uses very little encoding. Whereas deep processing gives us lasting memory and uses a lot of encoding. They wanted to test that if retrieving the significance of words involves encoding at a deeper processing level. In their results they found that the words which were processed at a deeper level, based on significance were recalled the best. Meaning that participants were attaching importance to the words in order to recall them. For example, after a word has been recognised it may trigger images or stories of the participants past experiences which allow them to remember the word more clearly than others. To summarise levels of processing Craik and Lockhart (1972) explain that deeper processing leads to a more persistent recall. If information is held in primary memory, such as maintenance will not in itself improve when attention is diverted, information is lost at a proportion which depends essentially on the level of examination. Therefore, those which have been shallow processed are less likely to be remembered (Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S, 1972).

The experiment in which I took part in was to research whether the recognition data for the three types of task (visual, phonemic and semantic) are significantly different from each other. In the experiment I was given a processing task to do followed then by an unexpected memory test of the words used in the task. During the processing task three types of questions could be asked. For example, does the word which I was show have five letters or, does this this word rhyme with the word I was shown and lastly does the word which I was shown make sense when put into this sentence. Visually the letters of each word was manipulated, phonemically the sound of the rhyming words was manipulated and semantically the focusing on the meaning of the words was manipulated. For each word type reaction time, error rate and for the memory test recognised words was measured. From the experiment the results showed that, it took a longer time to make a decision for visual words and more mistakes were made. Also that, deciding if words rhymed was carried out the fastest and was the least for making mistakes. For the recognition task, participants were more likely to remember semantic words, least likely to remember visual words and more likely to remember a semantic word that wasn’t there. Therefore, the deeper the level of processing the stronger the memory trace that results.

The experiment in which I took part in was in fact the Craik and Tulving (1975) levels of processing experiment. They both wanted to test whether how we remember information is affected by the level of processing. They wanted to see whether participants would skim over the sentence and not focus too much on the word or either, focus on the word itself and understand what it means. In the experiment participants were asked the same questions as I was in the experiment I took. However, one question was slightly different as it asked participants whether the word was in lower case or upper case. Also, they were then asked to pick out of a list original words. Just as the experiment I took part in the results of the Craik and Tulving experiment found same results as to one another. They showed that participants were more likely to recall words that were semantically processed compared to the visually and phonemically processed words. Which shows that semantic words involve deep processing compared to visual and phonemic words which are shallow processed (Craik, F.I.M and Tulving, E, 1975). This experiment shows that the results of the Craik and Lockhart experiment are backed up. It shows that those words which are deeply processed compared to shallow are more likely to be remembered.

From the three experiments which I have mentioned they all conclude the same results. Those words which participants more deeply processed they were more likely to recall them than the words which were shallowly processed. These results all show the processing at a shallow level only allows you to use a shorter lasting memory. Therefore, meaning that you are less likely to remember what you have seen. Whereas, processing at a deeper level allows you to use a longer lasting memory. Therefore, showing that you are more likely to remember not for just a short period of time but for a long period of time.

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