An Outline of Findings and Conclusions of Research into the Capacity of Short-Term Memory

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An Outline of Findings and Conclusions of Research into the Capacity of Short-Term Memory Jacobs lead the first organised study of the capacity of short-term memory in 1887 by creating a technique called the "memory span". Jacobs discovered the average short-term memory span to be between five and nine items. This became known as the "magic number 7 plus or minus 2". He also found that letters were not recalled as well as digits. Individual differences were found, thus giving the range five to nine. Jacobs also found that short-term memory span increased with age, for example he found a 6.6 average for eight-year-old children compared to 8.6 for nineteen-year-olds. From Jacob's research we can see that short-term memory has a limited storage capacity of between five and nine items. The capacity of short-term memory isn't determined much by the nature of the information to be learned but by the size of the short-term memory span, which is fairly uniform across individuals of a given age. Individual differences were found as short-term memory span increased with age, this may be due to increasing brain capacity or improved memory techniques, such as chunking. 2) Outline one explanation of forgetting in long-term memory (LTM) and give one criticism of this explanation. Cue-dependant forgetting is a classic example of forgetting because of retrieval failure. The information is stored in memory, and so is available, but just cannot be retrieved until an appropriate cue is given. Tulving (1979) used the concept that remembering something depends on having the right cues, to put forward his encoding specificity principle: this is t... ... middle of paper ... ...ed people who had witnessed a crime where one person was shot dead and one person fatally injured. These interviews which were carried out a number of months after the incident had taken place, along with the interviews given to the police immediately after the incident, were analysed. The eyewitness accounts were found to be very accurate, and the accuracy and amount of information recalled didn't decrease over time. The eyewitnesses' accounts also didn't become distorted by leading questions. The Devlin report in 1976 to the Home Secretary found that in 1973 there were 850 cases where eyewitness testimony was the only evidence of guilt. In 74% of these cases a jury found the accused guilty. Because of the findings already discussed the Devlin committee advised that no jury convict on eyewitness testimony alone.

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