Memory Theories


Core Theory: Multi-store Model

  • Made up of separate stores - short term and long term memory
  • Memory is affected by factors such as time and space
  • Input of information enters the sensory store and needs attention for it to enter the short term memory
  • If we do not pay attention, it decays
  • Capacity/Duration of STM: 7 +-2 / 10-30 seconds
  • Capacity/Duration of LTM: Unlimited/Unlimited
  • Information must be rehearsed for it to be remembered
  • Displacement can happen with FIFO, First in First out - memory space runs out
  • Accessibility problems: Cannot retreive information
  • Availability problems: Information is no longer being stored in the LTM


  • The model is too rigid and ignores individual differences
  • The model over-simplifies the STM and LTM
  • The model over-emphasises the role of rehearsal
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Alternative Theory: Levels of Processing

We remember things because they are significant and important rather than rehearsing them

Shallow Processing - not thinking about its meaning and less likely to recall it

Deep Processing - Thinking about its meaning and more likely to recall it as it means something

There are not different stores in the memory

Memory is not limited by space and time

Football scores study - fans were more likely to recall as it had a meaning to them

Non-Supporters only had shallow processing as they were not interested and it was forgotten

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Core Study: Terry 2005

  • Shows that a person's memory is affected by factors such as space and time
  • Tested people's memories of TV commercials
  • 10 months old and lasted less than 30 seconds - Presented in groups of 15
  • Terry changed the order of the commericals
  • 39 Participants who were students
  • Repeated measures design
  • They were asked to recall immediately the first time
  • Then they had a 3 minute writing task before recall
  • Results showed serial position effect - recall was dependent on its position
  • Immediate recall had primacy and recency effect - Time for rehearsal
  • Delayed recall had recency effect - had left STM
  • Middle commercials had been displaced


  • Laboratory experiments lack ecological validity - artificial surroundings
  • Experiments often lack construct validity - what is being measured of memory
  • Experiments have the problem of demand characteristics
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Application of Research: Memory Aids

Used in education

Use of cues

  • Having hints of the answer
  • Triggers memories


  • Shortened versions of the word


  • Spreading out ideas

Use of Imagery

  • Relating subjects to pictures or images
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