Login

George Miller's Psychological Study to Improve Short-Term Memory

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Using Psychology to Improve Long-Term Memory

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:58 Magical Number 7
  • 1:45 Chunking Numbers
  • 2:31 Chunking Letters
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Polly Peterson
Wouldn't it be nice to improve your short-term memory? According to one psychological study, there are, in fact, ways you can organize sets of new information to make them easier to remember. Based on the study, this lesson examines a method that can increase your short-term memory.

Is it possible to improve your working memory? Studies have shown that most people have similarly-sized working memories, but we may employ certain cognitive strategies to squeeze more information into a limited number of slots.

Let's look at a series of numbers for a few seconds:

2 6 9 31 20 6 3 3 25 1 17 9 5

Now see how many numbers you can remember, in the proper order.

Here's the list again so you can check your memory:

2 6 9 31 20 6 3 3 25 1 17 9 5

How many of the numbers did you remember? If you recalled somewhere between 5 and 9 digits, then you've reinforced a study conducted by psychologist George Miller.

Miller published the study under the title, 'The Magical Number 7, Plus or Minus Two.' It has long been understood to mean that there are limits on how many new items we can introduce at any one time to our short-term memory, and that the limiting number is 'seven, plus or minus two.'

At first glance this seems fairly straightforward. But think: what constitutes an 'element'? Look at this string of numbers:

2 6 9 3 2 6 3 3 2 1 1 9

If you string together the numbers into groups of three, 2-6-9 then becomes one element (269), instead of three separate pieces of information. One 3-digit element is easier to remember than three separate numbers. The principle of chunking, or organizing a bigger string of new information into smaller chunks, can potentially increase the number of individual items that our short-term memories can recall at any given time. Grouping the single-digit numbers into groups of three is chunking.

269 326 332 119

Now let's try to remember this string of numbers:

9 8 7 1 2 3 9 0 2 1 0

Now see how many you can remember:

987 123 90210

Were you able to remember more of this string than the first one? If so, it might be because, even though it contained the same amount of numbers, you may have found more memorable chunks within the larger sequence.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support