The Magic Number 7

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During the last lecture, we learned about memory and just how complex it is. I feel that as we have been learning about new things in class, we have been debunking myths surrounding these topics. This made me want to look up myths surrounding memory, and one of the ones that I found was mentioned in the last lecture. According to , the magic of 7 items (plus or minus 2) is a myth that came from a very good, but incorrect, theory by a famous psychologist named George A. Miller is just a myth.

The magic number 7 is one of the most highly cited papers in psychology. George A. Miller, of Princeton University's Department of Psychology published it in 1956 in Psychological Review. It theorizes that the number of objects that an average human can hold in their working memory is 7 +/- 2. More recent research has shown that the magic number 7 is not only based upon a misinterpretation of Miller's essay, but that the actual number of objects that can be held in the working memory is around three or four. The research revealed that span depends on the category of "chunks" used, and also features of these chunks within categories. For example, compare remembering a list of 7 things and a similar list split into categories. This could be 7 animals in one list and 2 birds, 2 cats, and 3 dogs in the other list. The second list is easier to remember.

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This page contains a single entry by jinxx198 published on October 16, 2011 11:31 PM.

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